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Defense Minister: Finland to address Türkiye’s security concerns

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The Finnish defense minister pledged to address Türkiye’s security concerns following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar in the capital Ankara

“We really understand the security concerns Türkiye has, and Türkiye can count on that Finland is committed to working against terrorism. No doubt about that,” Antti Kaikkonen told Anadolu Agency after the meeting.

Kaikkonen said Akar and he had a “good” meeting and had discussed the current situation in Europe.

“We are both worried about the situation in Ukraine naturally. Unfortunately, it seems there is no fast end to this tragic war, but hopefully, peace will come, the sooner the better,” he added.

Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bids were also on the agenda, he said, adding: “The talks were constructive and in a good spirit.”

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO in May, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

But Türkiye-a NATO member for more than 70 years-voiced objections, accusing the two countries of tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups, including the PKK, its Syrian offshoot YPG and the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ).

This June, Türkiye and the two Nordic countries signed a memorandum at a NATO summit to address Ankara’s legitimate security concerns, paving the way for their eventual membership in the alliance.

A ‘peaceful border’ with Russia

Asked about allowing NATO military deployment in Finland after possibly becoming a member, Kaikkonen said at the moment, the most important thing for Finland is to get full membership.

“These kinds of questions are solved later, what kind of NATO presence there will be in Finland, possibly, if any,” he said.

On nuclear weapons, he added: “We are very open for these kinds of discussions … (but) we don’t have any special interests to have those on our soil. NATO is not pushing nuclear weapons to Finland. I am pretty sure about that.”

Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (833-mile) border with Russia-the longest European Union member state border with Russia. In World War II, the USSR invaded its neighbor Finland.

Stressing that Finland is not currently experiencing any provocations from Russia, Kaikkonen said Moscow’s military focus is in Ukraine and their border with Finland is peaceful.

“Hopefully that’s the case in the future also. I want to underline that joining NATO is a different solution for Finland. We want to keep the peace in northern Europe now and always in the future,” he added.

On future defense industry cooperation with Türkiye, Kaikkonen said that both countries can cooperate more in the future and that their defense forces have had some preliminary talks about it.

“There are some similarities, actually, for example, about (both countries) having a conscription service system. Not so many countries have this kind of system. I’m sure that we will find ways for cooperation,” he said.

On possible purchases of Turkish-made drones, Kaikkonen said: “That was not so much on today’s (meeting) agenda but it’s not excluded that we would buy something in the future from Türkiye.”

In his official visit to Türkiye, Kaikkonen and Akar first had a tete-a-tete meeting and then the two ministers chaired the meetings between delegations.

Ankara requested F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021. The $6 billion deal would include the sale of 40 jets, as well as modernization kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force already has in its inventory.

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