NATO chief says Sweden, Finland should cooperate more with Turkey to fight terrorism

By Anadolu Agency

Sweden and Finland need to cooperate more with Turkey and tighten their anti-terror laws to combat terrorist groups to join NATO, the alliance’s top official has said.

The two Nordic countries should bolster cooperation with Turkey in the fight against the PKK terrorist organization and its offshoots, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Swedish public broadcaster SVT late Sunday.

On why Turkey has yet to join 28 fellow allies in ratifying Sweden and Finland’s application to join NATO, Stoltenberg noted that Ankara’s terrorism-related concerns were due to it having suffered more terror attacks than any other country in the alliance.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in June, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

However, Turkey voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

A trilateral memorandum at the NATO summit signed among the countries in June stipulates that Finland and Sweden will not provide support to the YPG/PYD, the PKK’s Syrian offshoot, or to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) — the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Stoltenberg’s remarks come after the Nov. 13 terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue that killed at least six and left 81 injured, as well as multiple rocket attacks by the PKK/YPG across Turkey’s southeastern border, leaving three dead and 14 others wounded.

In response to the terrorist bombing in Istanbul, Turkey launched an aerial campaign, Operation Claw-Sword, against the terrorist group in northern Syria and northern Iraq on Saturday, so far hitting 89 targets to eliminate the PKK/YPG hideouts.

On these efforts, the NATO chief emphasized Turkey’s right to defend itself against such terrorist organizations.

As part of its efforts to comply with the trilateral memorandum, Sweden moved towards a constitutional amendment last Wednesday to alter its anti-terror law.

The changes would give greater opportunity to restrict freedom of association for groups engaged in terrorism — a key demand from Turkey to approve Stockholm’s NATO membership bid.

It would also be possible to propose and decide on laws that ban terror groups or involve participation in a terror group’s criminal offenses.

The constitutional amendment will enter into force on Jan. 1.