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STOCKHOLM: The Swedish authority tasked with controlling exports of war materials said Friday it had authorised military exports to Turkey, after blocking them in 2019.

Ankara requested the lifting of the restrictions after Sweden applied to join NATO in mid-May, which still needs ratification from Turkey.

“The government has made the assessment that a Swedish membership in NATO is the best way to protect Sweden’s and the Swedish people’s security,” the Inspectorate of Strategic Products said in a statement.

The ISP decided to block military exports to Turkey in 2019, following a Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria.

“Sweden’s application for NATO membership to a large degree strengthen the defence and security policy arguments for approving exports of war materials to other member states, including Turkey,” the authority said.

The ISP said it had approved exports relating to “electronic equipment,” “software” and “technical assistance” to Turkey in the third quarter.

To date, 28 out of the 30 NATO member states have ratified the accession of Sweden and Finland. Only Hungary and Turkey remain, but new members to the alliance require unanimous approval.

Stockholm and Helsinki, which both reversed decades of non-alignment when they applied for membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, had expected the application process to be quick, as they had received assurances they would be welcomed “with open arms”.

But objections from Ankara, which accuses Finland and Sweden of providing a safe haven for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) listed as a “terrorist” group by Turkey and its Western allies, caught them off guard.

Even after Sweden and Finland were formally invited, Ankara has insisted it could still block entry into the Western alliance if it feels the Nordic countries fail to deliver on their promises.

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