So that there is no doubt that the commitment is supported by the Swedish Government at the highest level, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has personally informed, at a press conference in Stockholm, that she undertakes “not to hand over weapons or money to organizations terrorists”, thus fulfilling one of the conditions expressed by the Government of Turkey in return for its support for Sweden’s entry into NATO.

Andersson has indicated that with this declaration he hopes to eliminate the “ambiguities” in which, in the opinion of the Turkish Government, the Stockholm policy incurs. He made these statements while a first meeting of negotiations was taking place in Ankara between two delegations from Finland and Sweden and representatives of the Turkish Government.

The meeting was held at the Presidential Complex in the Turkish capital. The Turkish delegation is led by Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal. The visitors included Oscar Stenstrom, Swedish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Security, and Jukka Salovaara, Permanent Secretary of State at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Turkey, a member of the Alliance since 1952 and with the right to veto an admission decision that must be taken unanimously, has presented a list of conditions in which it demands five “concrete guarantees”, including the “end of political support for terrorism ‘, a ‘removal of the source of financing of terrorism’ and the ‘cessation of arms support’ to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a group of Syrian Kurdish militias affiliated with it (VK), in addition to the adoption of a clearer public stance against the PKK by the two aspiring countries and the extradition of Kurdish militants and other suspects that he has requested from Sweden since 2017 without success. Finland, for its part, has received nine extradition requests from Turkey and only two of them were executed.

“It is clear that it is a problem where we send our financial aid or to whom we sell weapons”, Andesson has identified as the main obstacles, although he has warned that “we are not sending money to terrorist organizations, obviously, not even weapons, nor are we going to do it in the future”. “Of course, we listen to everything that is said to us and we will discuss the list and resolve a number of things that are not clear,” added the Swedish Prime Minister after a meeting with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, “on Dialogue is underway with Turkey and I hope to strengthen bilateral relations, including in terms of peace, security and the fight against terrorism”. Andersson has also stressed that “in these times it is important to strengthen our security” and has described this first contact meeting as “a very constructive dialogue”.

Turkey has reproached Sweden during the meeting that this country has given 376 million dollars in the last year to Kurdish militants and that it has provided them with military equipment, including anti-tank weapons and drones, an accusation that Stockholm has denied. “Sweden is a major humanitarian donor in the Syrian crisis through global allocations to humanitarian actors,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde explained, “cooperation in northeast Syria is carried out primarily through the UN and other international organisations, so that Sweden does not provide specific support to the Syrian Kurds or to the political or military structures in North-East Syria, although the population in those areas benefit from aid projects.”

But Turkey’s demands also point to the lifting of weapons sanctions against its own territory and concrete signs of global cooperation against terrorism. In 2019, both Nordic nations imposed an arms embargo on Ankara after its incursion into Syria and this issue was the focus of the conversation that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, also had today (Wednesday) with his Turkish counterpart in Washington. That is where a good part of the negotiation is played out and, to demonstrate a position of strength, Erdogan today announced a new military offensive in northern Syria, with the aim of creating a “safe zone” along the border.