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International: Türkiye may delay Finland and Sweden's NATO membership for more than a year

2:30 pm on 20 June 2022

By Caitlin Gill, Joe Wickins 

Türkiye (Turkey) will delay Finland and Sweden's NATO membership for more than a year unless both countries address their support for Kurdish groups it regards as terrorist organisations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says "concrete steps" must be taken by the two Nordic nations to address their "legitimate" concerns. 

NATO's Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, has agreed that concerns raised by Turkey in its opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO are legitimate.

Türkiye is accusing their Nordic neighbours of providing a safe haven for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a "terrorist" group by Turkey and its Western allies, as well as other Kurdish groups. 

Finland's Prime Minister has admitted that Finland and Sweden's applications to join the alliance could be stalled if the issue is not resolved before a vital NATO summit starting in Madrid on 29 June.

The countries reversed decades of military non-alignment by applying for NATO memberships in May, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Any NATO membership must be unanimously approved by all 30 members of the alliance.

The Secretary-General says Türkiye is a crucial NATO ally due to its strategic location on the Black Sea between Europe and the Middle East.

Public Interest Journalism Funded by NZ on Air.