Finland says it has no blanket arms embargo on Turkey

Finnish Defence Minister in Ankara to discuss Nato membership bid

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, right, and his Finnish counterpart Antti Kaikkonen speak to the media after talks in Ankara, Turkey. AP
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Finland on Thursday said it would consider Turkish weapons requests on a case-by-case basis after Ankara demanded the lifting of an arms embargo.

Visiting Ankara for talks on Nato membership, Finnish Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said there was “no categorical export ban” of weapons to Turkey.

Finland had said in 2019 that it would not grant export licences to Turkey after its incursion into northern Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that he expected Finland to commit publicly to lifting the ban.

“In principle, it is possible that going forward some permits can be granted,” Mr Kaikkonen said on Thursday.

“Finland makes decisions on defence material export permits on a case-by-case basis, and being allies in Nato will be part of this holistic consideration process.”

Nato member Turkey has for months held up Sweden and Finland's applications to join the alliance.

The main Turkish grievance relates to Kurdish militants it says have sought sanctuary in Sweden and Finland, but weapons sales have also been raised.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said at Thursday's meeting that Finland still needed to take “concrete steps” on the Kurdish issue.

“I have told them that we are disturbed by the PKK/YPG terror organisations and their supporters’ continued activities in Finland and that we have concerns about this,” Mr Akar said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers' Party and Syria's People's Defence Units.

Finnish soldiers operate a field gun during exercises in the far north of Europe. AFP

Mr Kaikkonen said Finland has taken the Turkish concerns seriously and was committed to an agreement signed in June.

The three-way agreement signed at Nato's Madrid summit called on Sweden and Finland to work with Turkey on counter-terrorism and quickly process deportation requests.

Finland and Sweden agreed to conduct future arms exports “in line with alliance solidarity” and Article 3 of Nato's founding treaty, which calls for defence co-operation.

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has said he will abide by the agreement after a change of government in Stockholm in October.

A man convicted of having links to Kurdish militants was deported from Sweden to Turkey last week, although Swedish ministers said they were not involved.

Reuters quoted Mr Kaikkonen saying on Thursday that he could not predict how long Turkey's ratification would take but said “the sooner the better”.

Turkey and Hungary are the only two of Nato's 30 members that have yet to ratify Sweden and Finland's applications.

Hungary says it supports their membership but has not yet got around to completing the process in parliament.

The two Nordic countries have said they want to join the alliance simultaneously.

Updated: December 08, 2022, 4:26 PM
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