Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (right) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (left) arrive for a joint news conference following talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, on Feb 16, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
ANKARA — Turkish foreign minister on Monday reaffirmed Ankara's demands for more Swedish steps over its security concerns despite US pushes for Sweden and Finland's rapid accession into NATO.
Speaking at a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the Turkish capital of Ankara, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Türkiye is not sure about Sweden's admission into the military alliance, since it has yet to take enough steps to meet Türkiye's concerns.
Blinken, speaking earlier at the press conference, said the United States strongly supported Sweden and Finland's accession into the alliance "as quickly as possible"
Cavusoglu argued that although Sweden conveyed some positive messages, "PKK supporters are still present in Sweden. They are recruiting people; they are financing terror acts." He was speaking of the Kurdistan Workers' Party which Türkiye considers a terrorist group.
The Turkish minister reiterated that Ankara's stance on Finland's accession could be different and that its membership could be ratified earlier.
Blinken, speaking earlier at the press conference, said the United States strongly supported Sweden and Finland's accession into the alliance "as quickly as possible".
"Finland and Sweden already have taken concrete steps to fulfill the commitments they made under the trilateral agreement … We welcome those steps which are significant," Blinken added.
Cavusoglu responded that all parties in NATO must convince Sweden in particular to take more action to address Türkiye's concerns.
"If Sweden can take some positive steps then we can convince our parliament, our people and only after that we can say yes for their membership," he added.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022 in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Their accession to NATO needs the approval of all member states of the military alliance. Türkiye and Hungary, both members of NATO, are holding back their approvals. Türkiye requests that the two Nordic countries to "speedily and thoroughly" extradite individuals it considers to be terrorist suspects.