Turkey’s president discussed security concerns with leaders of Finland and Sweden that prevented him from supporting the two countries’ entry into NATO.
“Sweden’s political, financial and weaponry support to terrorist organizations must stop,” Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan said today in a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Ankara has accused Stockholm and Helsinki of being lenient towards members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who view Turkey, the United States and the European Union (EU) as terrorists. The two Nordic countries are also seen by Turkey as a haven for supporters of Fethullah Gülen, a cleric Ankara accuses of plotting the 2016 coup.
The Turkish President expressed hope that Sweden will take “concrete and serious steps” to show they share Ankara’s concerns. Erdogan also called on Sweden to lift a ban on arms exports to Turkey imposed after the country’s military intervention in Syria in 2019.
Prime Minister Andersson appreciated the call. She stressed that Stockholm wants to improve bilateral relations with Ankara, including in the aspects of security, peace and counter-terrorism.
In a phone call with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto the same day, Erdogan said “Kurdish terrorist organizations” pose a threat to Turkey. If Finland cannot address Ankara’s security concerns, it is against the spirit of the alliance.
President Niinisto said the conversation with his Turkish counterpart had been “frank and frank”. The two leaders agreed to maintain close communication.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on May 18, ending the two countries’ long-held policy of neutrality. Turkey then blocked efforts by NATO countries to negotiate the two Nordic countries’ decision.
Turkey’s move raises doubts as to whether NATO will be able to approve the first phase of the application process from Sweden and Finland in 1-2 weeks, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. This also sets the stage for diplomatic tensions between the member states of the alliance.
Surname (Corresponding Reuters)