BREAKING: Turkey reportedly blocks NATO accession talks with Sweden and Finland

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AFTER Finland and Sweden simultaneously handed in their official letters of application to join NATO on Wednesday, May 18, it appears that Turkey has once again thrown a spanner in the works.

A report from the Financial Times has indicated that “Turkey has blocked Nato’s initial decision to process requests by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.”

Citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter, the report states that “the postponement raises doubt that Nato will be able to approve the first stage of Finland’s and Sweden’s applications within one or two weeks, as secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg indicated.”

“It also sets the stage for several days of intense diplomacy between the US, Turkey, Finland and Sweden over the issue,” the person said.

Earlier, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he was “honoured to receive the applications for Finland‘s and Sweden‘s membership in NATO. This is a good day at a critical time for our security. Your applications are a historic step.”

Prior to the applications, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged “respect” from alliance members regarding his country’s concerns about Finland and Sweden’s applications.

“Our only expectation from NATO allies is… to first understand our sensitivity, respect and finally support it,” Erdogan told his party’s lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday, May 18.

On Sunday, May 15, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that both countries need to lift export bans on Turkey and cease supporting terrorist groups within their own countries if they were to approve the countries’ membership in NATO.

Turkey deems Sweden’s PKK Kurdish militant group a terrorist threat – as do the European Union and the United States – and as such needs assurances that they will stop supporting them.

“There absolutely needs to be security guarantees here. They need to stop supporting terrorist organisations,” Cavusoglu told Turkish reporters in Berlin following NATO foreign ministers’ meeting.

“Our stance is perfectly open and clear. This is not a threat, this is not a negotiation where we’re trying to leverage our interests,” he said.

“This is not populism either. This is clearly about two potential member states’ support for terrorism, and our solid observations about it, this is what we shared.”

Mr Stoltenberg had previously said that he had spoken to foreign minister Cavusoglu and stressed that Turkey was a ‘valued’ ally.

“Spoke with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu about the decisions by our closest partners #Finland & #Sweden to apply for #NATO membership,” he said in a tweet.

“Turkey is a valued Ally & any security concerns need to be addressed. We must stand together at this historic moment.”

On Sunday, May 15, Finland formally announced its intention of applying for NATO membership.

In a joint news conference held at Helsinki’s Presidential Palace, Sauli Niinisto, the country’s President, and Sanna Marin, the Finnish Prime Minister, both confirmed this move – which is thought of as surprising from a country that has remained neutral for more than 75 years.

On Tuesday, May 17, Sweden formally announced its intention of applying for NATO membership.

Sweden’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ann Linde, said: “Just signed a historic indication letter to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg from the Swedish Government. Our NATO application is now formally signed.”

Worryingly, lurking in the background is Russia, who have continued to threaten both Finland and Sweden – or any country that backs them – with nuclear action if they join NATO.

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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at