Sweden and Finland have come a step closer to joining NATO following Turkey’s decision to drop its objections, but there may still be some obstacles that need to be overcome, as some analysts say the deal entitles it. Ankara’s foreign policy veto, according to Reuters.
It is noted that the three countries reached an important agreement after more than four hours of talks on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday.
The two countries’ demands will have to be approved by all 30 current NATO members, a process that could be delayed.
“Sweden may again have problems with Turkey,” wrote the Swedish newspaper SvD. “If Turkey is not happy about whether Sweden is fulfilling its part of the agreement, the Turkish parliament may block the country’s accession again,” the daily said.
Speaking on Swedish radio, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said the fears were exaggerated. “I think we have worked so hard on this issue that we do not have to worry too much that there will be further problems,” he said. “But it would be reckless of me to say that absolutely nothing will happen.”
Under the agreement, Sweden and Finland agreed not to support Kurdish militant groups.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block the two countries’ demands over Ankara’s allegations that they support the YPG in northern Syria, which is also considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.
Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent Swedish MP and former Kurdish fighter, called it a “black day in Swedish foreign policy”.
“This puts a lot of stress on people who have sought asylum and shelter in this country, but now they no longer feel safe because Sweden is selling out their basic rights,” he added.
She said Linde would have to appear before the foreign affairs committee to explain the deal and threatened to file a motion of censure if she was not satisfied with what she heard. However, such a move is unlikely to succeed, as most lawmakers support the country joining NATO, with elections coming in September.
Sweden and Finland will also ease arms export rules and co-operate closely with Turkey on extradition requests for suspects wanted by Ankara.
Sweden’s opposition Green Party co-leader Marta Stenevi said the changes to the rules on arms exports and extraditions were “very worrying”.
But what they mean in practice is unclear.
Sweden has insisted on providing only humanitarian aid to Syria and refugees in the surrounding areas
Linde said this “of course will continue”, but that Sweden and Finland have agreed not to support militant groups in northeastern Syria in any way that threatens Turkish security, for example with money or weapons.
“But we are not doing that today either,” he said. He also said that extradition proceedings would not be affected. “This is done in accordance with Swedish law and the agreement with Turkey does not change that,” he said.
Nevertheless, there has been strong criticism of the agreement in Sweden.
Concerns are centered on Kurdish opposition groups living in Sweden and Finland, and that the deal will make it easier for Erdogan to launch a new invasion of northern Syria to retake cities held by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which are backed by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
“We warned early on about the dangers of putting Swedish foreign policy in Erdogan’s hands,” Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar said on Twitter. “Will we equip Turkey in the war in Syria? Which dissidents will be extradited?”