Turkish president opposes NATO applications from Finland and Sweden

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken out against allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO, putting the two Nordic countries’ hopes of joining a Western military alliance in jeopardy.

Turkey’s efforts to strengthen ties with the U.S. and Europe could take a hit in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Erdogan – whose country has been a NATO member since 1952 – said on Friday that he could not accept the potential of both countries. “Positive Views” Membership Bid.

The obstacle is their support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has launched a campaign decades-long armed rebellion He said he opposed the Turkish government. It is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The Turkish president also named a far-left extremist group.

“The Scandinavian countries are like some kind of guest house for terrorist groups,” Erdogan told reporters, referring to the Nordic countries. “They’re even in parliament.”

“It’s impossible for us to look at this positively at this point,” he added.

Some Swedish officials and MPs have been concerned that Turkey could pose the most dangerous opposition to a potential NATO bid, which appears to have the support of a majority of NATO’s other 29 members, but requires unanimous support.

“Sweden has a lot of Kurds, a lot of MPs with a Kurdish background, Sweden has been active on Kurdish issues — I’m afraid there will be a backlash,” a senior Swedish official said earlier this month.

Diplomats from Finland and Sweden have been traveling across Europe and the Atlantic to curry favor with NATO members whose approval is necessary for them to become members.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told Swedish radio on Friday that Turkey may be trying to exploit the situation to get what it wants. “We know that the ratification process always involves uncertainty, especially when ratification can be used for domestic politics,” she added.

Finnish officials are particularly concerned about Hungary, which they fear may seek concessions to ratify its membership.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö had a phone call with Erdogan on April 4, calling the call “positive” on twitter It added: “Turkey supports Finland’s goals.”

NATO officials have said they expect both Finland and Sweden to become official invitees within “weeks”, but it could take six to 12 months for all 30 existing members to approve their applications.

The Finnish government will meet with President Niinisto on Sunday to finalize the country’s application. On the same day, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats will make their position clear ahead of the government’s announcement next week. The countries have the option of sending a joint application to NATO next week during Niinistö’s state visit to Stockholm.

Relations between Turkey and NATO allies have been strained in recent years.U.S. impose sanctions In 2020, in retaliation for Erdogan’s decision to buy and receive Russian-made S-400 air defense systems.

Turkey’s support for Ukraine in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion encouraged the West, with Ankara supplying Kyiv with armed drones and taking steps to restrict the passage of Russian warships and military aircraft through its airspace – even though it refused to sign the West Sanctions on Moscow.

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