President Erdogan declared that Turkey “is not positive” about Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
At a press conference following a prayer meeting in Istanbul on May 13, when asked about the possibility of Finland and Sweden applying to join NATO by the end of the week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “we have no positive opinion” about it , while the two Nordic countries are accused of harboring organizations viewed by Turkey as terrorists.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said she will discuss with her Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu the possibility of the country seeking NATO membership at the NATO meeting scheduled for May 14 in Berlin, Germany applies. Meanwhile, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavistoaid expressed hope to continue talks with Foreign Minister Cavusoglu.
Turkey has repeatedly criticized Nordic countries, particularly Sweden, for hosting Kurdish groups that Ankara sees as extremist organizations and supporters of cleric Fethullah Gülen. Turkey is looking for US-based Gülen for alleged masterminds of the failed 2016 coup attempt.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly reiterated that the alliance will “welcome” Sweden and Finland with open arms. However, President Erdogan’s statement was the first dissenting reaction within NATO to the prospect of Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance.
When a country applies to join NATO, it must obtain the approval of the 30 existing members to renew the invitation and then conduct accession negotiations. The decision to admit a new member must be approved by all members.
Turkey, which has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, wants to play a role in ending the conflict and has offered to host a summit between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Finland shares a 1,300 km border with Russia. They became neutral by a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union in 1948, hoping to prevent a repeat of the 1939 Finnish-Soviet war that killed more than 80,000 soldiers.
During the Cold War, the Nordic country retained its non-aligned principle, despite the influence of both blocs led by the Soviet Union and the United States. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Finland gradually shifted its foreign policy focus to the West, marked by the decision to join the EU in 1995.
Sweden followed a similar path after the end of the Cold War, when it joined the EU in 1995 and increased cooperation with NATO. Sweden has avoided joining a military alliance for over 200 years.
Nguyen Tien (Corresponding AFP)