Sweden allows military exports to Turkey after NATO application
Stay tuned with 24 News HD Android App
Sweden announced on Friday it had reauthorised exports of war materials to Turkey in an apparently significant concession to Ankara, which is threatening to block the Nordic country's NATO membership.
"The government has made the assessment that a Swedish membership in NATO is the best way to protect Sweden's and the Swedish people's security," the Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) said in a statement.
"Sweden's application for NATO membership to a large degree strengthens the defence and security policy arguments for approving exports of war materials to other member states, including Turkey," the authority said.
- 'Big change' -
Turkey's parliament is due to resume work on Saturday after the summer break. But the country is heading for parliamentary elections in June 2023 and this could make it cautious about voting on membership for the Nordic countries.
As of Friday afternoon, Ankara had not reacted to the Swedish announcement.
"We'll see what Turkey says," the director of the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University told AFP.
"But this is a big change in the Swedish line," he added.
Stockholm and Helsinki both reversed decades of non-alignment when they applied for NATO membership following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
They had expected the application process to be quick, as they had received assurances they would be welcomed "with open arms".
But objections from Ankara, which accuses Finland and Sweden of providing a safe haven for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as a "terrorist" group by Turkey and its Western allies, caught them off guard.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately threatened to block the ratifications if Ankara felt its conditions had not been met.
The text signed in June confirmed that Stockholm and Helsinki consider the PKK to be a terrorist organisation. The Nordic nations also pledged not to support various groups which Ankara designates as "terrorist", including the Kurdish armed movement YPG in Syria.
- Extraditions -
Since mid-April, Turkey has been conducting operations against the PKK and its allies in northern Iraq and is simultaneously threatening to launch a major offensive in northern Syria.
A Swedish delegation is due to visit Turkey on October 5 and 6 for further talks. A meeting of all three parties took place at the end of August in Finland.
Erdogan has said he has received a commitment from Sweden to extradite a group of mainly Kurdish militants or suspected members of the Gulenist movement.
Stockholm and Helsinki have stressed that such decisions are made independently, by the judiciary.