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NATO

Erdogan urges Nato to ‘respect’ Turkey’s concerns over Sweden joining

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to block Finland and Sweden from joining Nato, urged the alliance's members on Wednesday to "respect" Ankara's concerns about the two countries, which Turkey accuses of harbouring terrorists.

Erdogan urges Nato to 'respect' Turkey's concerns over Sweden joining
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish parliament on Wednesday, May 18th. Photo: Turkish Presidency via AP Photo

“Our only expectation from Nato allies is… to first understand our sensitivity, respect and finally support it,” Erdogan told his party’s legislators in parliament.

Finland and Sweden submitted a joint application to join Nato on Wednesday May 18th as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces a dramatic reappraisal of security in Europe.

Erdogan accused Stockholm of providing safe haven to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) designated as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

“We asked them to extradite 30 terrorists but they refused to do so,” he said.

“You will not send back the terrorists to us and then ask our support for your Nato membership … We cannot say ‘yes’ to make this security organisation being lacking in security,” he added.

Sweden has also imposed embargoes on arms sales to Turkey since 2019 over Ankara’s invasion of Syria.

“We are sensitive about protecting our borders against attacks from terror organisations,” said Erdogan, calling on Nato allies to support Turkey’s “legitimate” Syria operations or at least not to stand in their way.

The Turkish leader also said he was not warm to Swedish or Finnish delegations’ request to visit Ankara for consultations.

“They want to come on Monday. They shouldn’t bother. There’s no need,” he said.

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NATO

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden’s NATO bid

Erdogan signalled on Saturday that no progress had been made in Sweden's bid to join NATO, urging Stockholm to take "concrete actions" to meet Ankara's concerns, his office said.

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden's NATO bid

In a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan reiterated that “Sweden should take steps regarding such fundamental matters as combatting terrorism”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Turkey “wanted to see binding commitments on these issues together with concrete and clear action,” he added.

Finland and Sweden discussed their stalled NATO bids with Turkey in Brussels on Monday, but Ankara dampened hopes that their dispute will be resolved before an alliance summit next week.

Turkish officials said Ankara does not view the summit as a final deadline for resolving Ankara’s objections. Ankara has accused Finland and in particular Sweden of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish militants whose decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Erdogan told Andersson that Sweden “should make concrete changes in its attitude” toward the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates, the presidency said.

“In this regard no tangible action aimed at addressing Turkey’s concerns was seen to have been taken by Sweden”, it added.

READ ALSO: Hopes fade for Sweden’s swift Nato accession

The Turkish leader also voiced expectations that Sweden would lift an arms embargo against Turkey that Stockholm imposed in 2019 over Ankara’s military offensive in Syria.

He also said he hopes that restrictions on Turkey’s defence industry would be lifted, and that Sweden will extradite several people Ankara has accused of involvement in terrorism.

The phone call comes after Erdogan discussed the two countries’ bid with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan also told Stoltenberg that “Sweden and Finland should take concrete and sincere steps” against outlawed Kurdish militants, the presidency said.

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