(Stockholm) The Swedish Foreign Minister said on Saturday that the country should “distance itself” from the Kurdish militia of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a few days before the Swedish Prime Minister’s visit to Turkey in the hope that Ankara ratifies the Nordic country’s NATO membership.
“We believe there are doubts and issues regarding those who tarnish our relations with Turkey,” Tobias Billstrom said in an interview with Sveriges Radio.
Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Sweden and Finland have been seeking to join the Atlantic Alliance.
But the Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is to receive conservative Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday, has been blocking the entry of these two countries into NATO since May.
Turkey accuses the two countries of protecting in particular Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG, considered terrorists by Ankara.
To overcome Turkey’s objections, the three countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the NATO summit in June in Madrid, relating in particular to extradition requests demanded by Ankara.
While Sweden has in the past expressed support for the YPG and its political arm the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the new government appears to be changing its tune.
“The link is too strong between these organizations and the PKK, recognized by the EU as a terrorist organization,” said Tobias Billstrom.
To date, 28 Member States – out of 30 – of the Atlantic Alliance have ratified the accession of the two Nordic countries, which must be approved unanimously.
Apart from Turkey, only Hungary has yet to give its final agreement.