Nordic countries’ support for terrorism threatens NATO: minister

Sweden and Finland’s political, financial and arms support to terrorist organizations is threatening NATO, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters following a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Akar described the talks as positive and noted that he voiced the importance of joint action in the fight against terrorism.

Restrictions on the Turkish defense industry harm NATO and do not comply with the spirit of the alliance, Akar added.

“We have been fulfilling our responsibilities in NATO for 70 years and will continue to do so. Yet, we clearly underlined that we will also continue to preserve our national rights and interests,” he continued.

“NATO is a security organization. One of its main areas of struggle is terrorism. NATO’s founding principles necessitate all kinds of fights against terrorism for regional and international stability and security,” he emphasized, reiterating that Turkey is fighting several terrorist organizations at the same time.

Russia’s war on Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to formally apply to join NATO on May 18.

But Turkey, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups such as the PKK and its Syrian wing, the YPG, as well as for weapons embargoes against the country.

While the two Nordic countries said talks to resolve the dispute would continue, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said recently that Ankara had not received any responses to its demands, including stopping support for terrorist groups, lifting arms embargoes on Ankara and extraditing terrorism suspects it seeks.

Any bid to join NATO requires unanimous backing from each of its 30 members.

“While fighting terrorism in the north of Syria, Iraq, protecting our citizens and country, on the other side we prevent terrorists from spreading in Europe,” Akar said.

“An understanding that ignores terrorists who attack an alliance member country, kill its security forces and massacre innocent people is incompatible with the spirit of friendship and alliance.”

Akar went on to say that he presented evidence of Sweden and Finland’s support for terrorist organizations during his talks in Brussels.

“There are Swedish-made AT-4 anti-tank weapons. We have gathered several of these weapons used by terrorists during our operations in the north of Syria and Iraq. We have put forth the photos and serial numbers of these during our meetings,” Akar added, highlighting the inconsistency in supporting terrorist groups while demanding to participate in a defense organization.

Speaking on defense industry export restrictions on Turkey by some members, Akar said: “One side they say ‘Let’s get stronger, be united against all kinds of threats toward NATO,’ on the other side embargoes are applied on Turkey.”

Akar on Thursday held talks with his European counterparts at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Participating in the sessions on the alliance’s deterrence and defense, Akar later attended a family photo session on the second day of the NATO defense ministerial meeting, a precursor to the leaders’ summit scheduled for June 29-30 in Madrid.

On the sidelines of the meeting, he held talks with his Lithuanian, Latvian, Albanian, Greek and French counterparts, separately, discussing regional defense and security issues.

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