Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın on Thursday held a phone call with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and emphasized the importance of unity, harmony and solidarity among NATO allies against common security and terrorist threats, according to a statement released by Ankara.
The officials discussed Turkey's role in NATO and its contributions to the alliance, the upcoming NATO Madrid summit, Sweden and Finland's membership applications to NATO, grain shipments over the Black Sea and regional issues, in addition to bilateral political and economic ties.
During the meeting, in which Turkey's key role in NATO was emphasized, opinions were exchanged on the new strategic mechanism between the countries, the Ukraine war, the fight against terrorism, the food crisis and other security issues to be discussed at the Madrid summit.
Sweden and Finland are facing pressure from Turkey to end their support for the PKK and its Syrian branch, the YPG, as the Nordic countries seek to join NATO, with Ankara maintaining that NATO is a security alliance and that any potential members must take a clear stance against terrorism.
Kalın stated that Sweden and Finland should meet Turkey's demands and expectations in the fight against terrorism and that no progress could be made without taking concrete steps. It was also underlined that it is unacceptable for PKK/YPG supporters to be circulating terrorist propaganda in Stockholm and through the media while Turkey's negotiations with the Nordic countries continue.
Kalın also told Sullivan that Turkey is continuing its negotiations with Ukraine and Russia on the creation of a safe corridor for grain shipments over the Black Sea and that obtaining results from this negotiation process, which includes the United Nations, is of strategic importance in terms of global food security.
A senior State Department official on Wednesday said that the U.S. recognizes Turkey’s legitimate concerns over Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bids and is hopeful for a “positive resolution” soon.
Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that discussed the proposed accession of the two Nordic nations to NATO, Karen Donfried, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said their participation would bolster the NATO alliance.
Donfried recalled that Ankara raised concerns about some of Finland and Sweden’s policies in advance of their accession. “We recognize Turkey’s legitimate concerns regarding terrorism, which NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg has also highlighted,” she said.
Turkey, Finland and Sweden are currently in talks to address the concerns, which include the PKK terrorist group’s activities in both countries. “The decision within NATO is a consensus decision. And Turkey has raised some concerns relating to terrorism and the approach of Sweden and Finland. Of course, the United States along with Turkey shares the desire to end the support of terrorism, and we all take this very seriously,” Donfried underscored.
The United States is hopeful that there will soon be a positive resolution of the issues between Turkey, Finland and Sweden regarding the NATO accession bids of the two Nordic countries, the State Department’s top diplomat for Europe also said.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the bids have faced opposition from Turkey, which has been angered by what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm’s support for terrorist groups and arms embargoes on Ankara.
NATO leaders will convene in Madrid on June 29-30. Any NATO membership requires the approval of all 30 members of the alliance. Turkey has been a NATO ally for more than 70 years and has the alliance’s second-largest army.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels earlier this week following their talks with top representatives from Sweden, Finland and NATO, Turkey’s senior officials did not express the same sense of urgency as Donfried and said the NATO summit was not a deadline.
Any progress on the Nordic membership bids “now depends on the direction and speed at which these countries will take steps,” Kalın said.
Last week, Turkey said documents it received from Sweden and NATO in response to the earlier written demands it presented the two candidates were far from meeting its expectations and any negotiations must first address Turkish concerns.
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.