ISTANBUL: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pix) signalled on Saturday that no progress had been made in Sweden’s bid to join NATO, urging Stockholm to take “concrete actions” to meet Ankara’s concerns, his office said.
In a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan reiterated that “Sweden should take steps regarding such fundamental matters as combatting terrorism”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
Turkey “wanted to see binding commitments on these issues together with concrete and clear action,“ he added.
Finland and Sweden discussed their stalled NATO bids with Turkey in Brussels on Monday, but Ankara dashed hopes that their dispute will be resolved before an alliance summit next week.
Turkish officials said Ankara does not view the summit as a final deadline for resolving Ankara's objections.
Andersson, who became prime minister late last year, said the conversation with Erdogan went well.
She tweeted that they had “agreed on the importance of making progress ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid next week, where I look forward to meeting President Erdogan and other allied leaders”.
Ankara has accused Finland and in particular Sweden of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish militants whose decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Erdogan told Andersson that Sweden “should make concrete changes in its attitude” toward the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates, the presidency said.
“In this regard no tangible action aimed at addressing Turkey’s concerns was seen to have been taken by Sweden,“ it added.
The Turkish leader also voiced expectations that Sweden would lift an arms embargo against Turkey that Stockholm imposed in 2019 over Ankara's military offensive in Syria.
He also said he hopes that restrictions on Turkey's defence industry would be lifted, and that Sweden will extradite several people Ankara has accused of involvement in terrorism.
The phone call comes after Erdogan discussed the two countries' bid with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
Erdogan also told Stoltenberg that “Sweden and Finland should take concrete and sincere steps” against outlawed Kurdish militants, the presidency said.
Stoltenberg said he had a “good call” with “our valued ally” Erdogan.
“We agreed to continue the talks in Brussels and Madrid next week,“ he tweeted. - AFP