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NATO member blocks accession talks for Sweden and Finland – media

Turkey has blocked NATO accession talks with Finland and Sweden on Wednesday, several media outlets have reported. Representatives of the military bloc’s member states have gathered seeking to open the negotiations just hours after both nations officially submitted their applications. However, Ankara has reportedly stopped the vote on the start of the talks.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the first stage of negotiations on the two nations’ applications can be concluded within one or two weeks. Turkey’s resistance casts doubt on whether it’s still possible.

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A spokesman for the military bloc has not commented on the alleged stumbling block in the talks but was cited in the Financial Times saying that “the security interest of all allies have to be taken into account [and] we are determined to work through all issues and reach a rapid conclusion”. At the same time, the spokesman has maintained that Sweden and Finland are NATO’s “closest partners”, adding that their accession “would strengthen Euro-Atlantic security.”

According to the German dpa news agency, Ankara has raised some “security concerns” and said it cannot agree to the start of the talks right away. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed his western NATO allies for failing to respect Turkey’s “sensitivities” in this issue. He has also accused Stockholm and Helsinki of harboring “terrorists” on their soil.

“We asked for 30 terrorists. They said: ‘we are not giving them’,” Erdogan told the Turkish parliament on Wednesday. “You won’t hand over terrorists but you want to join NATO. We cannot say yes to a security organization that is devoid of security,” the president added.

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