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NATO dialogue with Sweden, Finland 'meaningless': Turkey

IANS | January 27, 2023 07:38 AM

ANKARA : It is "meaningless" to hold a trilateral meeting with Sweden and Finland to discuss their NATO accession process after recent protests in Stockholm, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.

"In this environment, a trilateral meeting is meaningless. It has been postponed because the current environment will overshadow this, " Cavusoglu explained at a joint press conference with visiting Serbia's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Sweden has to decide. Does it want to join NATO or not? One of the aims of these incidents is to prevent Sweden from joining NATO, " the Turkish minister said, referring to recent protests in the Nordic country, which involves burning of Quran and demonstrations by the supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) outlawed by Turkey.

He warned the incident was a "racist attack that has nothing to do with freedom of thought".

Turkey has postponed a trilateral meeting with Sweden and Finland on their NATO bids slated for February following the burning of a copy of the Quran in Stockholm.

Sweden and Finland submitted their formal requests to join NATO in May 2022, which were initially objected by Turkey, a NATO member, citing their support for anti-Turkish Kurdish organisations and political dissidents.

A month later, Turkey, Sweden and Finland reached a memorandum of understanding (MoU) ahead of the NATO summit held in Madrid.

Under the MoU, Ankara agreed to lift its veto on the NATO bids by Finland and Sweden, which in return pledged to support Turkey's fight against terrorism and address its "pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly."

The Turkish parliament has not ratified the Nordic countries' NATO bids so far, citing that they have yet to meet Turkey's requests.

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