ANKARA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Turkish and Finnish defense ministers met on Thursday as Türkiye urges the Nordic country to lift the embargo on its defense industries to pave the way for Finland's NATO membership.
"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," Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said after a meeting with his Finnish counterpart Antti Kaikkonen in Türkiye's capital Ankara.
In what he called a "productive" and "constructive" meeting with Kaikkonen, Akar said the meeting focused on two issues in the Turkish-Finnish relations: the fight against terrorism and removal of arms export restrictions.
This was the first visit to Türkiye by a Finnish defense minister in 17 years, he noted.
For his part, Kaikkonen said his country will continue the process of lifting the arms embargo on Türkiye given that the two countries would be "allied countries within NATO in the future."
"As it is clearly stated in the Trilateral Agreement, there is no international arms embargo," said Kaikkonen, referring to a memorandum of understanding signed by Türkiye, Finland and Sweden on June 28 on the two Nordic countries' accession to NATO.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership on May 18. NATO ambassadors signed on July 5 the Accession Protocol for Finland and Sweden, which must be ratified by all 30 member states.
Their NATO bids were initially blocked by Türkiye, which accused them of supporting anti-Türkiye terrorist groups by rejecting Türkiye's requests for extraditing suspects affiliated with these groups.
Sweden and Finland have restricted arms exports to Türkiye after the country started a cross-border operation in northern Syria in 2019.
On Sept. 30, Sweden's Inspectorate of Strategic Products, which controls arms exports, said it had authorized military exports to Türkiye. ■