NATO member Türkiye objects to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance. Here's why Ankara says the two Nordic countries violate rules-based international order.
Tensions within NATO peaked earlier this week following Ankara's refusal to allow Finland and Sweden join the transatlantic alliance. The two Nordic countries' support to the PKK terror group has left a big question mark on whether their entry into NATO will become possible in the coming days, especially when Ankara has put forward its objections.
Here's a quick look into the role of Sweden and Finland in harbouring anti-Türkiye terrorism.
An exclusive report published in 2021 by Anadolu Agency revealed that Sweden was supplying weapons to the PKK terror outfit.
The terror group, as per the report, has targetted the Turkish security forces in Syria between 2017 and 2021 using more than 40 Swedish-produced AT-4 weapons as well as French or German anti-tank ammunition. A single-shot anti-tank weapon, AT-4 is one of the most common light anti-tank weapons across the world.
The AT-4 can be carried and used by a single person and has an effective range of 200 to 1,000 metres. It was designed to destroy or disable armed infantry vehicles and fortifications.
Turkish security forces seized the weapons during the operations against the PKK and photographed each one of them. The serial numbers that can be clearly read in the photographic evidence were shared with the Swedish government as well as global media. Yet, Sweden has failed to address the issue. It still owes an explanation to Ankara about how such high-intensity weapons ended up in the hands of the PKK.
According to the Anadolu Agency report, the PKK in Sweden has been generating significant income through illegal means, including theft, arms trafficking, drug dealing, and racketeering.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
PKK office in Stockholm
Türkiye has long shared its concerns with the two Scandinavian countries, encouraging them to stop supporting the PKK terror group. Now with Ankara blocking their NATO bid, the matter is attracting the global attention.
In 2016, PYD/YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK, opened an office in Sweden's Stockholm, in a move seen as Sweden’s open support to the terror group. Stockholm officials regularly meet with PKK leaders. After a video meeting of Swedish ministers and PKK members, the Turkish Foreign Ministry warned that the incident raised “serious question marks about Sweden's approach to combating terrorism as a matter of priority."
In another incident, the Swedish foreign minister participated in an interpellation with Swedish pro-PKK deputy Amineh Kakabaveh on March 25, 2022.
Finland is another Scandinavian country with a large PKK militant presence. For Ankara, it has also taken a clear stance opposing Türkiye’s military moves against PKK and its Syrian offshoot YPG in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
Both the country’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and former-Prime Minister Antti Rinne denounced Türkiye’s efforts to clear PKK in the region.
Hosting FETO members
In addition to YPG/PKK terrorists, Finland continues to host members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which was behind the defeated coup of 2016 in Türkiye. More than 250 people were killed and 2,734 injured during the failed coup attempt.
Finland hosts three educational institutions and one association run by the terror group as well as allows PKK protests across the country. The protesters openly display banners with photos of Abdullah Ocalan, the head of the PKK.
According to a Helsinki-based YLE news report in 2018, Finland’s arms exports to Türkiye expanded rapidly. However, in a statement in October 2019, then-prime minister Rinne announced that the government would not approve any new arms export licenses to Türkiye.
FETO is behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of the Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.