Sweden cuts ties with Kurds as it considers NATO

Sweden’s new government will distance itself from the Kurdish YPG militia as it seeks Turkey’s approval to join NATO, Sweden’s foreign minister has said.

The Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and its political wing PYD are seen by Turkey as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which launched an insurgency against Turkey in 1980 and is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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

However, Turkey has pledged to block Sweden’s application for NATO membership if it does not stop supporting the militia.

“There is too close a link between these organizations and the PKK (…) for it to be good for relations between us and Turkey,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told Swedish radio.

“The main goal is Swedish membership in NATO,” he said.

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

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

The request was approved by 28 of the 30 NATO countries.

The Nordic countries said this week they were optimistic Hungary would also drop its objections.

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