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Turkey demands "written agreement" to allow Finnish, Swedish NATO bids

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 7, 2022. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)

Turkey demands Sweden and Finland sign a "written agreement" on ending "support for terrorism" before it will give greenlight to the two Nordic countrie's NATO bids.

ANKARA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday demanded a "written agreement" from Finland and Sweden on steps to end their "support for terrorism" if they want to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Cavusoglu's remarks came a day before Turkey will hold consultations with the two Nordic countries in Ankara on their NATO bids.

"We expect them to end support for terrorism and to lift defense restrictions," Turkey's NTV broadcaster quoted Cavusoglu as telling reporters on his flight to Palestine and Israel.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (R) and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto attend a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 17, 2022. (Ninni Andersson/Government Offices of Sweden/Handout via Xinhua)

"They said 'We can take concrete steps.' We want a written agreement," the Turkish minister said, adding Ankara demands "assurances" in a signed agreement.

A four-way meeting can be held by the three countries with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in this regard, said Cavusoglu.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal will meet with Finnish and Swedish officials on Wednesday.

Turkey has so far been the only NATO member which objects to the NATO bids by Sweden and Finland, citing the two countries' support to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of PKK.

People protest against Sweden's decision to apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 16, 2022. (Photo by Wei Xuechao/Xinhua)

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.

Turkey also accuses the two countries of harboring members of the Gulen Movement which Ankara says is behind a failed military coup attempt in 2016.

Moreover, Ankara demands Sweden and Finland end their arms exports bans imposed following the country's cross-border military operation into northeast Syria in 2019.