Erdoğan talks to Swedish, Finnish leaders, discusses NATO bid

Erdoğan talks to Swedish, Finnish leaders, discusses NATO bid

Erdoğan talks to Swedish, Finnish leaders, discusses NATO bid

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has spoken to Sweden Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto over phone on May 21 and has discussed the countries' NATO membership bid.

Erdoğan told Andersson that Turkey backs NATO’s open-door policy but also underlined Sweden’s support to terror organizations, according to a statement by Turkish presidency.

"Sweden’s political, financial and weapon support to terrorist organisations must end," the statement said.

Erdoğan also spoke to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. 

'Spoke with President @RTErdogan of our valued Ally #Turkey on the importance of #NATO’s Open Door and the membership applications by #Finland & #Sweden. We agree that the security concerns of all Allies must be taken into account and talks need to continue to find a solution.' Stoltenberg tweeted following the discussion. 

Membership requires consent of all 30 existing members but Turkey is putting a spanner in the works.

Sweden and Finland, while solidly Western, have historically kept a distance from NATO as part of longstanding policies aimed at avoiding angering Russia.

But the two nations both moved ahead amid shock over their giant neighbor’s invasion of Ukraine, which had unsuccessfully sought to join NATO.

Erdoğan also told the Swedish premier to "lift restrictions imposed on Turkey in the defense industry" after the army’s Syria operation in 2019.

Meanwhile, President Erdoğan and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talk Finland and Sweden's NATO bids over phone on May 20. 

The call addressed the Turkey-U.K. relations, Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership applications, and regional developments including the Ukraine-Russia war, according to a statement by the Turkish Directorate of Communications. 

Erdoğan stated that the main problem was caused by Sweden’s and Finland’s ties with individuals and so-called organizations controlled by the PKK/YPG terrorist organization.

President Erdoğan noted that Turkey wanted to be sure that Finland and Sweden would adhere to NATO’s values and would properly observe Turkey’s legitimate concerns.

Erdoğan also stressed that the Turkish public opinion’s rightful objection to the NATO membership of countries supporting terrorism should not be overlooked.

Meanwhile, the U.K. has lifted all restrictions on arms exports to Turkey, the head of the Turkish Defense Industries Presidency said on May 20. 

"Important details on technical issues were discussed, and at the same time, steps were taken in principle to bring bilateral ties to a higher level in the field of defense," Ismail Demir said during his visit to London.