Turkey issues list of demands to Finland and Sweden over Nato accession

Window of opportunity to find compromise is narrowing ahead of Nato’s Madrid summit on June 29th

Turkey has drafted a nine-point list of demands for Finland and Sweden to meet – in their entirety – before it will drop threats to veto their Nato applications.

Ankara’s threat has threatened to derail the Nordic countries’ joint applications, triggered by a dramatic shift in public opinion after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is “not of a favourable opinion” on the applications because, he argued, the two countries are harbouring Kurdish terrorists.

“Nato is a security organisation, not a terrorist organisation,” he said in a television address on Wednesday. “Turkey cannot support Sweden’s Nato bid while its state television broadcasts interviews of terrorist leaders, and the same goes for Finland.”


With broad cross-party support in Turkey for Erdogan’s stance, and Nato enlargement requiring unanimous support, the window of opportunity to find a compromise is narrowing ahead of Nato’s Madrid summit on June 29th.

Turkey says Sweden has allowed fundraising and recruitment drives of local branches of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated by Turkey, the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organisation.

Sweden has also provided political refuge for some people Turkish authorities suspect of involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt. A final bone of contention: an arms embargo Finland and Sweden imposed on Turkey because of its cross-border military operations in Iraq and Syria.

The list of Turkish demands includes “assistance in the fight” against the PKK and other organisations with new anti-terrorism laws.

Turkey wants Sweden and Finland to ban symbols, freeze all assets and shut down all “linked internet sites and media organisations” to organisations it deems to be of a terrorist nature.

It demands the extradition of “persons with links to terrorism”, more shared intelligence and an end to restrictions on the export of defence equipment to Turkey.

“For Sweden and Finland to join Nato,” the document concludes, “these requirements must be met in their entirety.”

Many western leaders, including US president Joe Biden have come out to back the Swedish and Finnish applications since Turkey raised its objections.

Some analysts see Mr Erdoğan’s demands as calculated megaphone diplomacy to consolidate sliding public support ahead of next year’s elections.

Officials in Stockholm and Helsinki have signalled that it may be possible to make guarantees on anti-terror legislation while Sweden says it sees no impediments to arm exports to Turkey.

More problematic are demands that the two governments make extradition guarantees, which Finland and Sweden may not be able to make.

“In a constitutional order characterised by a strong separation of powers, governments cannot decide in lieu of judicial agencies,” argued Sinan Ülgen, a former Turkish diplomat and director of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank.

Meanwhile, Finland has announced plans to amend border legislation to allow it erect barriers on its eastern frontier with Russia. Most of the joint 1,300km border is opening, running through forest and countryside, marked only with signs.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin