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Turkey says Finland must end arms embargo to join NATO


ANKARA, Turkey – Finland must publicly declare that it is lifting an arms embargo against Turkey to win Ankara’s approval for NATO membership, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments ahead of a visit by Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen, who will discuss his country’s bid to join the military alliance with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Thursday.

“The Finnish defense minister’s visit to Turkey is important because we haven’t yet heard a statement from Finland saying that they have lifted their arms embargo against us,” Cavusoglu told reporters. “We expect such a statement from there.”

Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military non-alignment and asked to join the alliance after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, fearing Russia would target them next.

But NATO member Turkey has delayed attempts by Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance, accusing the two Nordic countries of ignoring threats to Turkey from Kurdish militants and other groups it considers terrorists and urging them to suppress those groups. Ankara has also pressured the two countries to lift the de facto ban on arms sales to Turkey.

Sweden announced in September that it was lifting the arms embargo it imposed on Ankara in 2019 following Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militia in Syria.

Turkey, which has accused the Nordic countries of ignoring threats against it from Kurdish militants and other groups it considers terrorists, has not endorsed their membership. The Turkish and Hungarian parliaments have yet to ratify their demands. The other 28 NATO member states have already done so.

washingtonpost Gt

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