Çavuşoğlu: No concrete steps taken by Sweden to fulfill NATO bid promises
Despite political will, new Swedish government has not taken any concrete steps, says Turkish foreign minister.
Sweden has not taken any concrete steps to implement what it agreed to in a tripartite memorandum for its NATO bid, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
“Despite the political will that the new Swedish government has expressed during our meetings, we have not seen any concrete steps,” Cavusoglu said at a news conference with his Estonian counterpart, Urmas Reinsalu, in Estonia’s capital Tallinn.
Reiterating Ankara’s commitment to NATO enlargement, Cavusoglu said: “As allies and friends, we should understand each other’s legitimate security concerns, not just one side’s concerns.”
Terrorism is one of the main threats mentioned in NATO documents, he said, adding that Ankara expects its allies to address its concerns in this regard.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last May, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Under a memorandum signed last June between Türkiye, Sweden and Finland, the two Nordic countries pledged to take steps against terrorists to gain membership in the NATO alliance.
In the agreement, Sweden and Finland agreed not to provide support to terror groups such as the PKK and its offshoots, and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and to extradite terror suspects to Türkiye, among other steps.
Cavusoglu pointed out that PKK/YPG supporters remain free to carry out propaganda in Finland, while in Sweden, they are engaging in financing and recruitment.
“It does not matter who is behind these actions. It is Sweden’s responsibility to prevent these actions,” he said.
Those actions and the recent attacks on the Quran are all aimed at derailing Sweden’s NATO membership process, said the Turkish minister.
PKK/YPG and FETO supporters know “there will be more pressure on them if Finland, and particularly Sweden, are part of NATO,” he said. “There are some political parties and politicians in both countries who are against their NATO membership.”
Rasmus Paludan, an extremist Swedish-Danish politician, burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on Jan. 21, with both police protection and permission from Swedish authorities.
The following week, he burned a copy of Islam’s holy book in front of a mosque in Denmark and said he would repeat the act every Friday until Sweden is included in NATO.
– Bilateral ties with Estonia
In their meeting, Cavusoglu and Reinsalu discussed cooperation on the economy, education, tourism, defense industry, and counterterrorism.
Trade between Türkiye and Estonia increased 15% last year and surpassed $400 million, said Cavusoglu.
“We have decided to set a new target, maybe $1 billion. I am sure we will be able to reach that target in a few years because there is massive potential,” he said.
There are also promising opportunities for cooperation in the defense industry, he added.
Reinsalu hailed Türkiye as a “solid and strategic partner” and said Estonia is keen to raise the volume of trade.
On NATO enlargement, he said: “We would like to see smooth progress on Finland and Sweden’s membership.”
Any provocations should not hinder the process, he said, adding that all sides should take steps “carefully.”
Cavusoglu also met President Alar Karis and extended greetings on behalf of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“As Allies, safeguarding the freedom amp; security of all NATO’s members 360-degrees is important for both,” Karis wrote on Twitter.
“I am certain: Finland and Sweden joining NATO will strengthen our security as a whole,” he added.