Swedish foreign minister confirms NATO talks with Turkey on Friday

Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO, but these discussions could pave the way for the two Nordic nations to join the alliance.

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Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde arrives at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. (Fabian Sommer / dpa)

COPENHAGEN—Envoys from Finland, Sweden and Turkey are due to meet for talks about NATO’s expansion in Finland on Friday, a minister has confirmed, discussions meant to pave the way for the two Nordic nations to join the alliance.

“The issue is how we should follow up on the agreement that Turkey, Sweden and Finland reached during the NATO summit in Madrid, which was a precondition for Turkey to agree to Sweden’s and Finland’s requests,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told broadcaster SVT on Wednesday.

New members must be unanimously approved but Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO, and has set several conditions for the expansion of the defense alliance.

The two incoming Nordic members have pledged to support Turkey against national security threats, among other commitments. Deportations are also to be made easier.

Specifically, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the two of harboring members of the Syrian YPG Kurdish militia, as well as members of the Gulenist movement.

The YPG is considered to have links to terrorism by some, but is seen by some Western countries to be the most effective fighting force on the ground in Syria against Islamist extremist groups. Members of the Gulenist network are accused of organizing a 2016 coup attempt.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said meetings between representatives of the three countries are to take place alternately in Finland, Sweden and Turkey in the future.

State Secretary Oscar Stenström for Sweden is due to attend the first talks, according to Linde.