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Turkey’s NATO talks with Sweden and Finland to resume on March 9

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that talks with Sweden and Finland regarding their NATO membership bids would resume on March 9, after being suspended in January in the wake of a Koran-burning protest in Stockholm, according to Reuters.

Turkey had previously cancelled a trilateral mechanism with Sweden and Finland on their applications to join NATO after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm in January.

“My colleagues will attend the meeting that will be held on March 9,” Cavusoglu told a press conference in Ankara, adding that the meeting would be held in Brussels.

But he said Sweden was still not fulfilling its obligations under the memorandum signed at a NATO summit in Madrid last June, even though NATO’s secretary-general and other allies have said Stockholm has changed its legislation.

“Unfortunately, we have not seen satisfactory steps from Sweden on the implementation of the Madrid memorandum,” Cavusoglu said. “It is not possible for us to say “yes” to Sweden’s NATO bid before we see these steps.”

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the North Atlantic defence alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine, but Sweden in particular has faced unexpected objections from Turkey.

Ankara accuses Stockholm of harbouring what it considers members of terrorist groups, and has demanded their extradition as a step towards giving Sweden’s NATO membership its green light.

The United States and other NATO countries are hoping that the two Nordic countries become members of the alliance at a NATO summit due to be held in July 11 in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.

While Ankara has signaled it could approve Finland, it has given no assurances that it will give Sweden’s bid the green light by then.