Turkey to say ‘no’ to Finland, Sweden’s NATO membership: President Erdoğan

Turkey to say ‘no’ to Finland, Sweden’s NATO membership: President Erdoğan

Turkey to say ‘no’ to Finland, Sweden’s NATO membership: President Erdoğan

The Turkish government will say “no” to Sweden and Finland for joining NATO, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said and added that Ankara communicated his policy to relevant actors.

“We told our relevant friends that we would say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden joining NATO,” Erdoğan said on May 19 while addressing a group of Turkish youngsters on the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day.

“We said that NATO is a security organization, we cannot accept the existence of terrorist organizations in such an organization,” he said and stressed Turkey would “resolutely continue this policy.”

The two Nordic countries harbor the PKK and YPG groups and even provide them “financial and arms” support, the president said and also pointed to arms restrictions on Turkey as a reason for Ankara’s opposition to the two countries becoming part of NATO.

“The two countries, especially Sweden, are home to terror. They also imposed arms sanctions on us,” Erdoğan explained.

Several European countries, including Sweden and Finland, restricted arms exports to Turkey following the country’s cross-border operation into northeast Syria in 2019.

Turkey also accuses Sweden and Finland of harboring the members of the FETÖ.

Both Helsinki and Stockholm have failed to agree to Ankara’s requests for the extradition of 33 members of the PKK and FETÖ, the Turkish Justice Ministry said last week.

The president recalled that Ankara once accepted Greece to join NATO, but then had troubles with the neighboring country. He stressed that Turkey would not make the same mistake again.

Even if Sweden and Finland now propose to meet the security guarantees that Ankara has asked for, the two countries will later “pull a trick,” he stated.

Turkey’s approval of Finland and Sweden’s application to join the Western military alliance is crucial because NATO makes decisions by consensus. Each of its 30 member countries has the power to veto a membership bid. Turkey is the only ally to have clearly voiced its opposition.

Finland and Sweden have proposed to work with Turkey towards eliminating the Turkish government’s concerns regarding their NATO membership, but Erdoğan earlier said they should not bother to come to Ankara to convince Turkey.

Public opinion in Finland and Sweden has shifted massively in favor of membership since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Asked about the war between Russia-Ukraine, the president said Turkey will continue to pursue a “balanced policy.”

“And I have no intention of breaking ties with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy,” he added. Turkey’s phone diplomacy with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders will continue, Erdoğan noted.