| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Sweden to distance itself from Kurdish groups in bid to join NATO

As it seeks to convince Turkey to accept NATO membership, Sweden’s new administration will distance itself from the Kurdish YPG militia, the country’s foreign minister said on Saturday.

Turkey views the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which started an uprising against Turkey in 1980 and is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, as an extension of the Syrian Kurdish YPG force and its political branch PYD.

Sweden, along with the United States and several other NATO countries, has supported the YPG in the fight against Islamic State.

However, Turkey has vowed to block Sweden’s application to join NATO if it doesn’t stop supporting the militia group.

“There is too close a connection between these organizations and the PKK … for it to be good for the relationship between us and Turkey,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told public service broadcaster Swedish Radio.

The move comes just days before Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is due to travel to Ankara to try to convince Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan to let Sweden join the military alliance.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO earlier this year as a direct consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The application has been approved by 28 of NATO’s 30 countries. The Nordic countries said this week they were optimistic Hungary would also drop its objections.

  • Reuters