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  • Writer's pictureFurkan Evren Arslan

Why Türkiye Doesn't Want Sweden and Finland in NATO?

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

Claiming that they support the terrorist organization PKK, President Erdoğan gave a veto sign to Finland and Sweden, which want to become NATO members. Erdoğan said that Türkiye made a mistake by approving Greece’s return to NATO in 1980, and said, “As Türkiye, we do not want to commit the second mistake in this regard.” So, do Sweden and Finland support the terrorist organization PKK, as Türkiye claims? Moreover, what is the PKK, and what kind of organization is it?

The PKK, Kurdistan Workers Party, was founded by Abdullah Öcalan in 1974. It aims to establish an independent Kurdish state. It has been accepted as a terrorist organization by many states, including the European Union, USA, NATO, Türkiye, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The PKK carried out strategic and sensational actions such as bomb attacks, suicide attacks, sabotage, and arson against civilians and security forces in many cities of Türkiye. Today, such attacks continue, causing damage to both the state organization and civilians.

In my opinion, Türkiye’s sensitivity to this issue is understandable. On the other hand, it should be reduced too. The NATO Secretary-General, in a meeting with Spanish journalists, explained, “You have been talking about the Kurds, but we must admit that there are several Kurdish groups and the PKK is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. It doesn’t matter if they are in Sweden or Finland.” Frankly, it is quite a misconception that the world public opinion sees the PKK as only a Kurdish movement.

As a Kurd, I can easily say that, considering the current position of the PKK, it does not have the slightest political support for the rights of the Kurdish people. The PKK acted completely according to its interests.

At the same time, it caused conflicts among the civilian population due to its actions. Although such conflicts have decreased today, the potential to polarize the public continues. As for me, if there is a class or racial discrimination, it is in the political arena, not the armed struggle. What would the world look like if the problems encountered were tried to be solved every time with an armed struggle? In today’s world, where human rights are highly developed and developing, applying the law is the most civilized and peaceful action. Yet for that, the PKK and such separatist organizations should be deemed completely illegal by states around the world and should be fought collectively.

Engin Akyurt/Pexels

At this point, I would like to give an example of a few actions by Sweden and Finland that cause Türkiye's concerns.

In Sweden;

  • Income has been provided to the organization through subsidiaries named Heyva Sor, a Kurdistan CIK, which are operating in the country and has offices in many European cities, especially NCDK, and uses the name “Kurdiska Röde Halvmanen” in Sweden.

  • The terrorist organization YPG/ PKK has had an office in Stockholm since April 2016. On the grounds of freedom of expression, Sweden tolerates free demonstrations and marches by the PKK and its affiliates, and the display of organization posters and banners. Swedish-made AT-4 anti-tank guns were seized during Türkiye’s operations against the PKK in the 2017-2021 period. Sweden maintains its relations with the PKK in many cases like these.

In Finland;

  • The posters of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the terrorist organization PKK, and the banners of the PKK and its affiliates are carried in the demonstrations organized by the NCDK.

  • Although the Finnish authorities do not take any restrictive measures against PKK marches or demonstrations, it is claimed that these are a part of freedom of expression.

  • Finnish media reported on July 19, 2021, that Finnish authorities evacuated a Finnish woman and her 2 children from the al-Hol camp in northeast Syria, and they were brought to Finland on Friday, July 16. According to the news, the Finnish national women and their children were handed over by the “Kurdish authorities in Qamishli” to Jussi Tanner, the Special Envoy of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for the al-Hol evictions, on Wednesday, 14 July.

States that are in a commendable position to respect human rights, such as Sweden and Finland, should not give any passage to organizations that violate rights. At this point, as a citizen of Türkiye, I would really like to see Sweden and Finland as allies in NATO, but first of all, Türkiye’s concerns should be addressed and a clear attitude should be displayed against terrorist organizations. After this attitude is displayed, Türkye will be quite pleased to see these two powerful states as its allies.

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