Military & intelligence

Finland Mulls Relaxing Arms Export Rules to Turkey to Secure NATO Bid

A soldier from the Swedish Armed Forces, looks on from top of the Patria XA-360 AMV (Armored Modular Vehicle) at Hagshult AirbaseEarlier this year, Finland and Sweden abandoned their policy of military non-alignment and rushed to become NATO members. They also abandoned their principle of not sending weapons to warring nations by arming Ukraine during Russia’s ongoing special operation. However, Ankara’s opposition has been the main stumbling block to their NATO bid.Finland may loosen its policy of not exporting arms to Turkey, the Nordic nation’s officials have hinted.According to Finnish media, the country’s Defense Ministry has given an “initial green light” to recent Turkish requests for arms.“It’s possible that the government will deal with these applications before next spring’s elections,” the Defense Ministry’s special adviser Riikka Pitkanen was quoted as saying.Although Finland has no formal ban against exporting arms to Turkey, since 2019 it has not issued any new export permits to Turkey since its ground operations in Syria against Kurdish forces Turkey considers to be terrorists. The same policy was adopted by neighboring Sweden, only to be reversed later on.Pitkanen stressed that Finland considers arms exports case by case.“We look at who is ordering the product, what kind of product it is and what it will be used for,” she explained.Remarkably, barely last week Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen called for Finland to change its policy regarding relations with Turkey.

“Little by little, we have to be able to think of Turkey as a future ally. It must be taken into account as part of the overall consideration,” Kaikkonen said while discussing arms exports.

Government guidelines at present explicitly state that Finland doesn’t export weaponry to countries at war or those in contravention of human rights. Nevertheless, the ruling left-wing coalition led by the Social Democrats had no qualms about exporting arms to Ukraine (despite the ongoing conflict) and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar (which Finland criticized for human rights abuse which both countries vehemently deny).MilitaryStoltenberg Says Finland and Sweden Experienced Quickest Accession Process in NATO History7 December, 15:26 GMTEarlier this year, Finland and Sweden both bade farewell to their historic military non-alignment and rushed to become members of NATO, citing Russia’s special operation in Ukraine and the ensuing “security situation” as a pretext.So far, all 30 NATO member states bar Hungary and Turkey have ratified their accession, for which unanimous approval is needed. Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, vowed to approve the accession of both Nordic nations to NATO next year.Turkey, by contrast, has said that if the two Nordic countries want its backing, they must take a tougher stance on Kurdish militants that it considers terrorists. Earlier this month, Turkey explicitly called on Finland to end its arms embargo to garner Ankara’s support – something Sweden did this autumn.


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