BY DAILY SABAH WITH AFP
Finland has issued the first commercial export license for military material to Türkiye since 2019, a key demand for Ankara to approve Helsinki’s NATO bid, the country’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.
Riikka Pitkanen, a special adviser at Finland’s defense ministry, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the export license granted concerned steel that would be used for armor.
The move comes amid a spat that saw Türkiye on Tuesday indefinitely postponing upcoming talks with Finland and Sweden on their application to join the military alliance after a weekend protest in Stockholm that drew condemnation from Ankara.
The three nations reached an agreement on how to proceed in Madrid last June, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Sweden, in particular, is not keeping its side of the bargain.
On Monday, Erdoğan said that Sweden should not expect Türkiye’s support for its NATO membership after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm at the weekend including the burning of the Quran.
Of NATO’s 30 members, only the parliaments of Türkiye and Hungary have not yet ratified entry for Sweden and Finland.
The two countries formally applied to join NATO last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, abandoning decades of military non-alignment.
Türkiye has voiced objections due to the two countries tolerating and supporting terrorist groups.
Ankara also requested the lifting of the arms export restrictions that Sweden and Finland imposed after Türkiye’s military operation seeking to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian branch YPG in 2019.
Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen previously said that they would consider resuming arms export to Türkiye.
Swedish authorities in September last year authorized the resumption of exports of military equipment to Türkiye.
“Since October 2019, no commercial export licenses have been issued to Turkey,” Pitkanen said.