Türkİye

Sweden, Finland have to comply with memorandum to be part of NATO: Türkiye

'If they do not comply, we will not accept them into NATO,' says Foreign Minister Cavusoglu

Handan Kazanci   | 04.07.2022
Sweden, Finland have to comply with memorandum to be part of NATO: Türkiye FILE PHOTO

ISTANBUL

Sweden and Finland have to comply with a recent memorandum signed with Türkiye to be part of NATO, the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday.

“If they do not comply, we will not accept them into NATO,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a live interview with Turkish broadcaster NTV.

He stressed the importance of the deal, saying: “For the first time, the YPG/PYD were added to a NATO document.”

When asked about how binding the memorandum is, Cavusoglu said: “First of all, they are committed to full cooperation with Türkiye in the fight against the PKK and its extensions.

“There is also a commitment to lift the defense industry embargo and restrictions, and to increase cooperation.”

He also pointed out the two Nordic countries’ commitment to fight terrorism and update their defense industry legislation.

“If these countries do not keep their word, we will take our steps accordingly,” he said.

Sweden and Finland shunned neutrality and applied to join NATO in May, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine.

But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

Ahead of the NATO summit last week, Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland signed the memorandum after four-way talks including NATO in Madrid.

The agreement allows the two Nordic countries to become NATO members but conditions them to take steps on Türkiye's terrorism concerns and lift an arms embargo on Ankara.

Following the trilateral deal, NATO formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the 30-member military alliance.

Turkish-US relations

On Ankara-Washington relations, Cavusoglu said ties are “relatively positive” and negotiations on the purchase of new F-16s have been successful.

The Turkish government requested the F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021. The $6 billion deal would include the sale of 40 newly built F-16V fighter jets and modernization kits for 80 F-16 C/D models that the Turkish Air Force has in its inventory.

“The negotiations between the (Turkish and US) soldiers on the purchase of new F-16s and the modernization of the existing ones have been extremely successful,” he said.

Cavusoglu recalled US President Joe Biden’s remarks at the NATO summit that the sale of F-16s to Türkiye should be approved by US Congress.

He also noted a relatively positive environment in Türkiye’s meetings with the Congress members.

“We don’t see a negative picture at the moment,” he said.

On the US-Türkiye strategic mechanism, Cavusoglu said that it was “realized and successful.”

Last May, the US and Türkiye said that they were “committed to working closely together to face current geopolitical challenges.”

A joint statement issued after a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Cavusoglu said the top diplomats “intend to deepen bilateral cooperation through constructive and open dialogue” envisaged by the strategic mechanism.

Normalization process with Israel

Hailing the normalization process between Ankara and Tel Aviv, Cavusoglu said a government change in Israel will not affect it.

Despite Israel preparing for an election, the dialogue between Ankara and Tel Aviv is ongoing in various areas including energy, he added.

Last month, Cavusoglu announced that Türkiye and Israel began efforts to raise the diplomatic representation in relevant countries to the level of ambassadors.

Last week, Israeli lawmakers voted to pass the final readings of a bill to dissolve the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, paving the way for snap elections slated for Nov. 1.

The upcoming elections are the fifth in less than four years, during which former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed four times to form a government despite his party’s victory in the elections.

Drawing to the normalization with some Arab countries, Cavusoglu also said, unlike the normalization process that is progressing rapidly with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the progress with Egypt is not going “as fast as we want.”

“Relations in all areas are good, but we can say that a relatively slow process is taking place in political relations compared to other countries,” he explained. “But there is no problem. Both sides need to be at the same speed at the same time.”

On a possible grain corridor to address the food crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war, Cavusoglu said: “This partly depends on Russia saying yes. The UN has a plan, and in our opinion, it is a beautiful and objective plan.”

He added: “It is necessary that Russia say ‘yes’ to a possible meeting in Istanbul. If the details to be discussed there are agreed on, a center will be established and the process will work.”

Tons of Ukrainian grain are stuck due to the war, causing global shortages and price hikes. Russia, which is accused of using food as a weapon, says Western sanctions are to blame for the food shortages.

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