Turkish, Finnish defense ministers discuss NATO bid, security issues

Türkiye Materials 8 December 2022 23:35 (UTC +04:00)
Turkish, Finnish defense ministers discuss NATO bid, security issues

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met with his Finnish counterpart Antti Kaikkonen in the capital Ankara on Thursday to discuss the trilateral memorandum and security issues, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.

Following a welcoming military ceremony, Akar and Kaikkonen held one-on-one talks as well as a meeting between the two countries' delegations.

Speaking about the details of the meeting, Akar said It was a "productive and constructive" meeting, adding bilateral relations were discussed, in particular the fight against terrorism, and the removal of restrictions on export licenses.

Referring to the Tripartite Memorandum signed by Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden at a NATO Madrid Summit on June 28, Akar said: "We expect the commitments in the memorandum signed in Madrid to be fulfilled."

Finland made statements in support of the memorandum he said, adding, but, we expect "concrete steps. As soon as the commitments are fulfilled, we want Finland to be among us as a NATO ally."

The Finnish defense minister said Helsinki cannot predict how long it will take for Ankara to ratify its NATO membership bid but "the sooner the better."

In an interview with Reuters after meeting his Turkish counterpart, Kaikkonen said Helsinki prefers to join the security alliance alongside Stockholm, which also made a bid, and not to go "alone."

Meanwhile, Akar said concrete steps from the U.S. on the sale of F-16 jets. Türkiye expects "Based on these positive approaches, we now expect positive and concrete steps from the US. We want this work and the process to be concluded as soon as possible in a positive and rapid manner."

After the U.S. Congress dropped restrictive language on the F-16 sales from a defense bill, after Türkiye's insistence, Ankara has signaled that it wants the sales approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden as soon as possible.

"We expect all our allies, especially Finland, to support and contribute to Türkiye's fight against terrorism and the modernization efforts of the Turkish Armed Forces," Akar added.

"We have seen the positive approach of our U.S. counterparts from the very beginning on this issue," Akar explained. "We have always seen a positive approach from the U.S... in meetings between delegations, especially U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin."

Though the Biden administration had supported the sales, some members of Congress close to the Greek lobby had tried to block its approval.

Calling on Türkiye's allies to make "the necessary contribution" to support the Turkish Armed Forces' procurement and modernization efforts, both in the fight against terrorism and in ensuring that Ankara can "fully" fulfill its duties within NATO, he said: "We are working to supply (ourselves) from our other allies, but we are running into some limitations."

He also said: "I would like to remind you once again that these restrictions are also (to be) removed."

Ankara requested F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021. The $6 billion deal would include the sale of 40 jets, as well as modernization kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force already has in its inventory.