After five hours of bilateral meetings, the Swedish and Finnish representatives have returned from Ankara with no news about Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conditional ‘no’ to joining NATO, but with a list of papers and a period to reread them. It is a roadmap that, as explained by presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, contains Turkey’s demands in exchange for its green light to expand the transatlantic alliance. The three countries have agreed to continue negotiating.

“They must take steps against terrorist financing, propaganda and media activities,” Kalin said at a press conference after the round of meetings he held with delegates. “There is also the matter of extraditions. There are twelve requests to Finland and 28 to Sweden, but, for now, the answers received are not satisfactory,” he added. Another issue that he has presented as a petition is the end of the arms embargo on Turkey approved by the Swedes in 2019.

The reason for those sanctions was Stockholm’s critical stance on the Turkish army’s attack on a region in northern Syria controlled by Kurdish militias. An action that was plagued by complaints of human rights violations and that Turkey justified by claiming its right to self-defense. Ibrahim Kalin has spent time emphasizing that “there is no difference” between these Kurdish Syrian forces, whose acronym is YPG/J -which the West supported to defeat the Islamic State and to which it has entrusted the custody of its prisoners-, and the Kurdish-Turkish guerrilla PKK, considered a terrorist group by the European Union.

After four decades of attacks and violent clashes, alternating with episodes of dirty war and massacres of civilians, a particularly militant exile community has consolidated in the Nordic countries. The last to arrive, having nothing to do with the Kurds, have been fleeing members of the brotherhood of the preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of orchestrating the bloody failed coup of 2016. Turkey calls on Sweden and Finland to curb their activity , which they call “terrorist”.

“There is a need to change the chip,” concluded the also adviser to Erdogan on foreign policy in front of journalists. Regarding his verbal exchange with the Swedish and Finnish delegates, Kalin stated that “we have reminded them that they must take broad steps, but very concrete and within a specific time frame. If not, the process cannot continue”. The spokesman has not detailed what the response of the representatives has been. “You will report our discussion to your Administrations,” he has said.

Ibrahim Kalin is considered one of the moderate voices in President Erdogan’s entourage, who is struggling to keep his electoral options afloat in the midst of an economic crisis. Many analysts blame Turkey’s reluctance to give Sweden and Finland the go-ahead not only to Turkish anger with the Scandinavians – whom Erdogan accuses of being a “nest of terrorists” – but to the need to squeeze all the political capital out of a crisis that generates a great internal consensus.

This very week, Erdogan has threatened to launch a new attack against northern Syria, possibly taking advantage of the fact that Russia, stationed in Kurdish areas, is more concerned with keeping the type in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ankara awaits news from Sweden and Finland. “We have provided them with all kinds of documentation about the terrorists,” Kalin insisted. “We will be in contact, we will see how they respond to our demands and, based on that, we will continue with the negotiations.”

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