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Reuters: Erdogan set to speak with Finnish leaders on Saturday

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper, Ambassador Emre Yunt said Turkey "wants to solve problems" as informal talks continue.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Image: EPA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he will speak with "Finnish leaders" on Saturday, according to a report (siirryt toiseen palveluun) by news agency Reuters, but he did not specify with whom he will be speaking.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö's office did not comment on the reports when contacted by Yle.

Erdoğan told reporters on Friday that he remains opposed to Finland and Sweden joining Nato unless Turkey's list of demands are met.

"Of course we will continue all these discussions for the sake of not interrupting diplomacy," he said.

Turkey's ambassador to Sweden, Emre Yunt, told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Turkey "wants to solve the problems" that have led to a stalling of Finland's and Sweden's accession talks.

In an interview with Aftonbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun) published on Friday, Yunt outlined the three key obstacles to Turkey granting approval for the the accession process to continue: Western support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Northern Syria, a ban on arms exports to Turkey, and a refusal by Finnish and Swedish authorities to extradite a total of 33 people to Turkey.

Despite these requested concessions, Yunt noted that informal talks between Turkey and Sweden were ongoing through various channels, while Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) said on Thursday that discussions were also taking place between Finland and Turkey.

"No one from Sweden has spoken to the Turkish President. Our foreign minister warned Sweden that there could be provisions [for membership]," Yunt told Aftonbladet.

This week, Yle News' podcast All Points North examined Turkey's motivations in its attempts to block Finland and Sweden from joining Nato.

Turkey: Swedish support for YPG an issue

Yunt further stated during the Aftonbladet interview that Sweden is arming the YPG in Northern Syria, along Turkey's border. Several western countries have supported the Kurds in the region in their fight against ISIS.

However, Turkey has said that the YPG is in effect a branch of the PKK and considers both to be terrorist organisations. The European Union however only lists the PKK as a terrorist group.

Turkey's ambassador to Sweden Emre Yunt was interviewed by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. Image: Aftonbladet

Erdoğan has previously characterised Finland and Sweden as countries that arm and hide terrorists, with reports in the Turkish media alleging that Sweden is arming the PKK.

Yunt told Aftonbladet that ending western support for the Kurdish groups is Turkey's main demand and therefore the biggest obstacle to supporting Finland and Sweden's membership of Nato.

"Sweden supports the YPG financially and with arms. This force is attacking the Turkish army in northern Syria on a daily basis. We have confirmed that they have Swedish weapons," Yunt said.

Yunt denied that Turkey was maneuvering on behalf of Russia in blocking the accession talks.

"We do not do anyone else's business. We take care of Turkey," he replied.

He added that Turkey is not prepared to concede on the demands, even if other Nato member states support the Finnish and Swedish membership of the alliance.

"We want to solve the problems, but if Sweden stays in its position, we will not be any closer to a solution," Yunt said.