Turkey slams Sweden, Finland over news of insurgent support at NATO meeting

Turkey’s foreign minister described as “unacceptable and outrageous” the support of potential new NATO members Sweden and Finland for the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, which Ankara and its Western allies have designated a “terrorist” group.

The PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) has waged a rebellion against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984, and Ankara’s criticism of Sweden and Finland could complicate NATO’s plans to expand.

“The problem is that these two countries openly support and engage with the PKK and YPG [People’s Protection Units],” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevrut Cavusoglu said on Saturday when he arrived in Berlin for a meeting with NATO foreign ministers.

“These terrorist groups are attacking our troops every day,” Cavusoglu said.

“It is therefore unacceptable and outrageous for our friends and allies to support this terrorist group,” he said.

“These are the issues we need to discuss with our NATO allies and with these countries [Sweden and Finland]. “

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Linkovic said that despite Turkey’s concerns, NATO would find a “sensible” solution to the admission of Finland and Sweden as new members.

“We’ve had these discussions in the league many times before. I think we can always find a sensible solution and we’ll find one this time,” he told reporters in Berlin.

“Memberships of Sweden and Finland are crucial to the alliance as a whole and ultimately Turkey,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Berlin that Sweden and Finland will apply to join NATO in the coming days.

“This is an important historical moment for two countries that have remained neutral for a long time,” Vasson said, adding that Russia’s actions in Ukraine “pushed them towards NATO.”

All 30 NATO member states must approve their applications, and the acceptance process can take several months, said Wasson, explaining that this is a “so-called grey period” between application and accession, which is a major concern for the two. The country is the most worrying. During this period, Sweden and Finland would not have the collective defense protection of NATO’s Article 5, which states that “attacking one is attacking everyone,” she said.

negotiation

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said earlier on Saturday that Turkey had not closed the door on Sweden and Finland to join NATO but needed to negotiate with the Nordic countries, And to combat what Ankara considers terrorist activities.

Turkey considers the YPG, a U.S.-backed Kurdish fighter in Syria, a “terrorist” group. Ankara sees the YPG as an affiliate of the PKK.

“We’re not going to close. But we’re basically raising the issue as a national security issue for Turkey,” Kalin, who is also the president’s top foreign policy adviser, told Reuters in an interview in Istanbul.

Kalin said the PKK was fundraising and recruiting in Europe, especially in Sweden, where its presence was “strong, open and recognised”.

“What needs to be done is clear: they must stop allowing PKK outlets, events, organisations, individuals and other types of presence…in these countries,” he said.

“We’ll see how things go. But this is the first point we want to bring to the attention of all allies, as well as the Swedish authorities,” he added.

Erdogan said on Friday that NATO members and two Nordic countries were surprised Turkey cannot support Expanding military alliances at a time when Finland and Sweden are “home to many terrorist groups.”

Any country seeking to join NATO needs the unanimous support of its members. The United States and other member states have been trying to clarify Ankara’s position on Finland and Sweden.

Sweden and its closest military partner Finland are still outside NATO, which was formed in 1949 to fight the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Both countries wary of confronting Moscow, but their security concerns have grown since then Russia invades Ukraine February 24.

‘mutual views’

Turkey, NATO’s second-largest military, has officially supported NATO expansion since joining the U.S.-led NATO 70 years ago.

Turkey has criticized Russia for invading Ukraine, helping to arm Kyiv and trying to facilitate talks between the two sides, but opposes sanctions against Moscow.

Asked if Turkey risked being too transactional during the war, and that public opinion in Finland and Sweden was leaning toward joining NATO, Kalin said, “If they [Finland and Sweden] Where there is a public who cares about their own national security, we have a public who also cares about our own security,” he said.

Kalin said Russia’s sharp criticism of Finland and Sweden’s plans to join NATO was not a factor in Turkey’s position.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Finnish counterpart on Saturday that joining NATO would be “a mistake”.

“Putin stressed that ending the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake because Finland’s security would not be threatened,” Kremlin said in a statement Saturday.

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