The Turkish president told NATO heads Sweden and Finland must address Ankara’s concerns before it can support their membership bid.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said Ankara would not take a “positive” view of the Swedish and Finnish bids by NATO unless their concerns were resolved, despite widespread support from other allies, including the United States.
Turkey has long accused the Nordic countries, especially Sweden, which has a strong Turkish immigrant community, of harboring outlawed Kurdish rebels as well as Fethullah supporters. Gulen, the US-based preacher wanted over the failed 2016 coup.
Erdogan’s objections have created a potentially major obstacle to the fact that the militarily unaligned Nordic nations have so far required consensus on NATO decisions.
“Unless Sweden and Finland make it clear that they will stand with Turkey on fundamental issues, especially in the fight against terrorism, we will not take an active approach to membership.” NATO of these countries,” Erdogan told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in a phone call. to the president.
On Twitter, Stoltenberg said he spoke with Erdogan “our precious ally” about the importance of “NATO’s Open Door”.
“We agree that the security concerns of all the Allies must be taken into account and that negotiations should continue to find a solution,” he said.
On Thursday, Stoltenberg said Turkey’s “concerns” were being worked out to find “an agreement on how to move forward”.
Erdogan talks to the leaders of Sweden and Finland
Erdogan, who has refused to receive delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey, held separate phone calls with the leaders of the two countries – Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson – on Saturday, called on them to give up financial and political support for “terrorist” groups that threaten his country’s national security.
Erdogan called on Sweden to lift the export restrictions on defensive weapons it imposed on Turkey over Turkey’s 2019 offensive in northern Syria, a statement by the Turkish President Ky said.
The Turkish leader also said he expected Stockholm to take “concrete and serious steps” against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other groups that Ankara considers “terrorists.” .
Andersson tweeted that Sweden looks forward to “strengthening our bilateral relations, including on peace, security and the fight against terrorism”.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and has been blacklisted by Turkey and its Western allies such as the European Union – which includes Finland and Sweden as “” terrorist organizations”.
Mr. Erdogan told Finish President Sauli Niinisto “that the understanding that ignoring terrorist organizations pose a threat to an ally in NATO is incompatible with the spirit of friendship and alliance,” the statement said. more.
In return, Niinisto praised “an open and direct phone call” with Erdogan.
“I have declared that as NATO allies, Finland and Turkey will be committed to each other’s security and our relationship will therefore grow stronger,” he wrote on Twitter. Twitter.
“Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Close dialogue continues. ”
Sweden and Finland, while firmly established in the West, have historically kept their distance from NATO as part of longstanding policies to avoid angering Russia.
But the two nations forged ahead with their membership bids in shock over their giant neighbor’s invasion of Ukraine, which had unsuccessfully sought to join NATO.
On Thursday, Niinisto and Andersson visited Washington, where they spoke with US President Joe Biden about efforts to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden said “Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger” and offered “full, complete, complete support of the United States of America”.