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Turkey says Sweden’s steps for NATO bid positive but not enough

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Turkey said on Wednesday that Sweden’s new government was more determined to address Ankara’s security concerns in return for NATO membership but called for “concrete steps,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts on the sidelines of a NATO gathering in Bucharest on Tuesday.

Ankara has accused the two Nordic nations — especially Sweden — of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish groups it deems “terrorists” and held back on ratifying their NATO bids despite an agreement in Madrid in June.

“The statements [coming out of Sweden] are good, the determination is good, but we need to see concrete steps,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Bucharest.

“We told them we haven’t seen concrete steps on these issues” including the extradition of criminals and the freezing of terror assets.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom spoke optimistically about Tuesday’s meeting.

“And I have to say that I felt after this meeting that yes, there is progress in line,” he said.

“We are moving forward with the implementation of a trilateral memorandum which was signed in Madrid.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also sounded upbeat, saying he was confident that Sweden and Finland would “soon” join NATO.

“Turkey, Sweden and Finland are engaging directly as well as with NATO to make sure that Turkey’s concerns are fully addressed, including concerns about its security,” he said.

“That process has been moving, moving forward. And I’m very confident and again, based on what I’ve heard these last couple of days, that Finland Sweden will soon be formally new members of the alliance.”

Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment and scrambled to become NATO members in May, after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The decision requires a consensus within the US-led defense alliance, but only Turkey and Hungary are yet to give consent to their membership.

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