Sweden distances itself from Kurdish militias in bid to join NATO, says FM

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Sweden has reaffirmed its decision to distance itself from Kurdish militant groups in its bid to join NATO as it seeks Turkiye’s approval to join the military alliance.

Earlier this year, Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the potential threat it would pose to them. While that offer was approved by 28 of the alliance’s 30 member states, Turkiye and Hungary declined to approve it.

Ankara has vowed to block Stockholm’s application if it does not end support for the Syrian-Kurdish militant group, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkiye insists it supports. directly related to Kurdistan. Workers’ Party (PKK).

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The PKK is classified as a terrorist group by the Turkish and American governments, as well as by the European Union. Despite the Syrian Kurdish militias’ alleged ties to that group, Western countries have supported the YPG to continue the fight against Daesh.

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In conversation with the public broadcaster Swedish radioSwedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom acknowledged that “there is too close a link between these organizations and the PKK… to be good for the relationship between us and Turkiye”, and emphasized that “the main goal is the Swedish membership of the NATO.”

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Billstrom’s assurance that his country will distance itself from Kurdish militias — the size of which remains to be seen — came just days before Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson was due to travel to Ankara and meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an attempt to persuade him. to support Sweden’s bid to join the NATO alliance.

This week Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg himself paid a visit to Turkiye to try to convince the government of Stockholm and Helsinki to join the alliance. full members of NATO”.

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READ: Finland and Sweden pledge to join NATO