Turkey says Finland must end arms embargo to join NATO

December 6, 2022 GMT

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Finland must publicly declare that it’s lifting an arms embargo on Turkey to win Ankara’s approval for its membership to NATO, the Turkish foreign minister said Tuesday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments ahead of visit by Finland’s Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen, who will be discussing his nation’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 have not yet heard a statement from Finland saying they’ve lifted their arms embargo against us,” Cavusoglu told reporters. “We’re expecting such a statement from there.”

Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied for membership in the alliance after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, amid concerns that Russia might target them next.

But NATO-member Turkey has been holding up Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the military alliance, accusing the two Nordic countries of ignoring threats to Turkey from Kurdish militants and other groups it considers as terrorists and pressing them to crackdown on these groups. Ankara has also been pressuring the two countries to lift a de-facto ban on weapons sales to Turkey.

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

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