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Finland, Sweden begin talks with Turkey over Nato objections

Turkey accuses the Nordic nations of "protecting terrorists" and has issued a list of demands that must be met before Nato accession talks can proceed.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Finland and Sweden of "protecting terrorists". Image: Stephanie Lecocq / EPA

Finnish and Swedish diplomats began talks with Turkish representatives in the capital Ankara on Wednesday to discuss Turkey's opposition to the two Nordic nations joining Nato.

Finland and Sweden simultaneously submitted applications to join the alliance last week, but Turkey has blocked the initial processing of the bids.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the two Nordic nations of "protecting terrorists" and issued a list of demands that must be met before talks can proceed. The list included measures related to the alleged protection of members of the PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, which Turkey has designated as terrorist organisations.

Speaking ahead of the talks, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters that the Ankara meeting is focused on clarifying Turkey's demands and seeking resolutions.

"We will naturally go through and discuss the list and sort out a number of things that have been unclear in reporting in the media and statements from other places," Andersson said.

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Haavisto heads to Washington

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) told Yle last weekend that talks with Turkey could last weeks, but he was nevertheless "optimistic" of a positive outcome.

On Wednesday the Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced that Haavisto will visit Washington DC from 25 to 27 May, where he is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as representatives of the US administration and Congress.

The ministry added that the agenda for the meetings will include Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland’s Nato application and bilateral ties.

"Finland appreciates the United States’ strong role in Nato and its commitment to European security, as well as the support that the United States has given to Finland’s Nato membership," Haavisto wrote in the press release.

This week's episode of the Yle News weekly podcast All Points North examined the reasons behind Turkey's objections to Finland and Sweden joining Nato. Listen here.