SHARE
COPY LINK

NATO

Turkey comes out against Swedish and Finnish Nato membership

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has thrown up the first significant hurdle to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, declaring that "it’s not possible for us to look positively at this.”

Turkey comes out against Swedish and Finnish Nato membership
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on May 9. Photo: Adem Altan/AFP)

Turkey, which has been a member of Nato since just a few years after the alliance was founded, has frequently clashed with Sweden over the support it has shown for the Kurds, a persecuted minority in Turkey whose Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), is classed as a terrorist organisation. 

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul on Friday. It had been a mistake even to admit Greece in 1952, he said. 

“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organisations,” he said. 

Sweden currently has six Kurdish MPs, representing the Liberal, Social Democrats, Sweden Democrats and Left Party.

“They are even members of the parliament in some countries. It is not possible for us to be in favour,” Erdogan added. 

Member comments

  1. Sweden will never hand over the Political enemies of the President of Turkey neither will Finland so go put the Champagne glasses back where they have been for three hundred years because Sweden and Finland will never be allowed into NATO as long as Turkey is led by this despot who regards both countries on trying to undermine his rule .

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

NATO

Turkey’s Erdogan puts conditions on support for Sweden, Finland Nato bids

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said Turkey would not look "positively" on Sweden and Finland's Nato bids unless its terror-related concerns were addressed, despite broad support from other allies including the United States.

Turkey's Erdogan puts conditions on support for Sweden, Finland Nato bids

Turkey has long accused Nordic countries, in particular Sweden which has a strong Turkish immigrant community, of harbouring extremist Kurdish groups as well as supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher wanted over the failed 2016 coup.

Erdogan’s threat throws a major potential obstacle in the way of the likely membership bids from the hitherto militarily non-aligned Nordic nations since a consensus is required in Nato decisions.

“Unless Sweden and Finland clearly show that they will stand in solidarity with Turkey on fundamental issues, especially in the fight against terrorism, we will not approach these countries’ Nato membership positively,” Erdogan told Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg in a phone call, according to the presidency.

On Twitter, Stoltenberg said he spoke with Erdogan “of our valued ally” on the importance of “Nato’s Open Door”.

“We agree that the security concerns of all Allies must be taken into account and talks need to continue to find a solution,” he said.

On Thursday, Stoltenberg said Turkey’s “concerns” were being addressed to find “an agreement on how to move forward”.

Erdogan, who refused to host delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey, held separate phone calls with the two countries’ leaders on Saturday, urging them to abandon financial and political support for “terrorist” groups threatening his country’s national security.

He told Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that “Sweden’s political, financial and arms support to terrorist organisations must end”, the presidency said.

Turkey expects Sweden to “take concrete and serious steps” that show it shares Ankara’s concerns over the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Iraqi and Syrian offshoots, Erdogan told the Swedish premier, according to the presidency.

The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is blacklisted as a “terrorist organisation” by Turkey and Western allies like the European Union — which includes Finland and Sweden.

‘Incompatible’

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has shifted political opinion in both Nordic countries in favour of joining the Western military alliance.

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 moved ahead with their membership bid, in shock over their giant neighbour’s invasion of Ukraine, which had unsuccessfully sought to join NATO.

Erdogan also told Andersson to “lift restrictions imposed on Turkey in the defence industry” after the army’s Syria operation in 2019.

In another phone call with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Erdogan said turning a blind eye to “terror” organisations posing a threat to a Nato ally was “incompatible with the spirit of friendship and alliance.”

Erdogan also said it was Turkey’s most natural right to expect respect and support for its “legitimate and determined struggle against a clear threat to its national security and people”, the presidency said.

Swedish and Finnish leaders on Thursday were welcomed by US President Joe Biden, who strongly backed their bid to join Nato.

Biden said “Finland and Sweden make Nato stronger”, and offered the “full, total, complete backing of the United States of America.”

READ MORE:

Turkey ambassador suggests extradition of Swedish member of parliament

INTERVIEW: What does the end of neutrality mean for Sweden?

SHOW COMMENTS