Finnish President Saoali Niinisto has downplayed concerns that Turkey would block his country and neighboring Sweden from joining the military alliance, as the United States supports the move, according to Bloomberg.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey was not in favor of Sweden and Finland joining, citing concerns about Kurdish “terrorists”. NATO is unanimously welcoming new members, and a decision is expected Sunday on the two Nordic countries that have pushed for entry into the alliance following Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“I would not have guessed that this would mean that Turkey would throw a tripod in the proceedings for good,” Ninisto said in an interview broadcast on Saturday by Finland’s YLE TV1. “Until now, Turkey’s message to us has been quite the opposite,” he said, adding that “this is sure to lead to a debate, given that the United States seems to have reacted.”
Turkey has long complained about insufficient co-operation by NATO and its European allies in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is branded a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. Erdogan spoke about Sweden and the Netherlands, stressing that they serve as shelters for Kurdish fighters.
Niinisto, who spoke with US President Joe Biden and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson on Friday, said in a telephone interview that Erdogan’s comments seemed to surprise Biden. The world’s most powerful military force later asked Turkey to clarify its comments, the Finnish leader said.
Niinisto’s comments echo those of Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, who said Turkey had not raised any concerns and signaled that the United States would likely support a possible decision to join NATO.