Turkey on Tuesday said it has communicated its demands to Finland and Sweden which must be met if they hope to join NATO. Last Friday, delegations representing the Scandinavian countries headed home from Ankara with a list of Turkey’s concerns. A Turkish official previously told Reuters of the talks which made no progress, "They need to take concrete steps that will be difficult. Further negotiations will continue. But a date doesn’t seem very close."
"Finland and Sweden should change their laws if needed to meet Turkey’s demands and win its backing for their bid to join NATO, the Turkish foreign minister said on Tuesday, doubling down on a threat to veto a historic enlargement of the alliance," Reuters says in its latest reporting. Ankara has said it's awaiting a response after handing over documents to the countries' representatives.
Cavusoglu said Turkey, which makes up the NATO alliance's second largest military, will keep its veto in place unless its demands are met. All 30 countries that make of the military bloc must approve of membership expansion.
"Are our demands impossible? No. We want them to halt their support for terror," Cavusoglu said to state-run Anadolu news agency.
But the hurdles for Finland and Sweden's dual ascension amid the Turkish objection now look more significant than ever, given that Cavusoglu stressed the countries would actually have to change their domestic laws. He said:
"They put it this way: ‘since we are far away from terror regions, our laws are designed that way’. Well, then you need to change them," he said. "They say it is allowed for the terrorist organization to organize events and wave their flags around. Then you have to change your law."
In describing what was outlined to Finland and Sweden, the Turkish top diplomat detailed they must:
halt their support for the PKK and other groups
bar them from organizing any events on their territory
extradite those sought by Turkey on terrorism charges
support Ankara’s military and counter-terrorism operations
lift all arms exports restrictions
Particularly the ban on PKK-linked groups' ability to "organize events" would require a drastic change in 'right to assembly'-related laws on a domestic front, which is probably a tall order, given it would first require designating the PKK and its officials a listed terror organization inside Finland and Sweden. Further, the list has gone from merely requesting "halting support" to the PKK, to demanding that Helsinki and Stockholm actively support Turkey's "military and counter-terrorism operations".
Turkey says Nordics must change laws if needed to meet its NATO demands https://t.co/usloibp4RO— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) May 31, 2022
Meanwhile, a statement from Erdogan's office said, "Eventually Finland’s government must decide which is more important — to join NATO or protect these kinds of organizations."
Given all of this, as some have already predicted this means "fast-tracking" the countries' ascension is all but dead as a realistic option. At this point, their membership bids could even take years.