ANKARA — Turkey said on Wednesday that Sweden and Finland had made progress towards NATO membership but that they still needed to do more to satisfy Ankara’s requests on tackling terrorism.
Sweden and Finland applied in May to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but ran into objections from Turkey, which accused the two Nordic countries of harboring militants from the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other groups.
Stockholm and Helsinki deny harboring militants but have pledged to cooperate with Ankara to fully address its security concerns and also to lift arms embargoes.
“The two countries took some steps, we recognize them. But there have not been any steps on extradition requests and freezing terror assets,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at a NATO gathering in Bucharest.
But Cavusoglu also praised Sweden’s new government for what he called a “a more decisive, tougher stance on terrorism.”
Speaking earlier on Wednesday from the Bucharest gathering, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said his country and Finland had made good progress towards an agreement with Turkey.
“We had a very good bilateral yesterday between Sweden, Finland and Turkey, and I felt after this meeting that there is progress. We are moving forward,” he told reporters on arriving for the second day of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting.
Hungary, the only other member of the 30-nation NATO alliance yet to ratify the two Nordic countries’ application, has promised to approve the bids in early February 2023, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haasvisto said on Wednesday.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Huseyin Hayatsever.
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