Turkey has not “closed the door” on Sweden and Finland joining NATO, but wants to negotiate with the Nordic countries and crack down on what it considers to be terrorist activities, especially in Stockholm, the president’s spokesman said on Saturday. Tayyip Erdogan.
“We are not closing the door. But we are essentially raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey,” Ibrahim Kalin, who is also the president’s top foreign policy adviser, told Reuters.
Erdogan surprised NATO members and the two Nordic countries seeking membership, saying on Friday that Turkey could not support enlargement because Finland and Sweden “host many terrorist organizations”.
Any country seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization needs the unanimous support of the members of the military alliance. The United States and other Member States are trying to clarify Ankara’s position.
Sweden and its closest military partner, Finland, have so far remained outside NATO, which was founded in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The two countries are reluctant to compete with their big neighbor, but their security concerns have grown since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Stockholm is widely expected to follow Helsinki’s example and could apply to join the 30-nation military alliance as early as Monday.
Kalin said the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a terrorist organization designated by Turkey, the United States and the European Union – was raising funds and recruiting in Europe and had a “strong, open and recognized” presence in Sweden. particularly.
“What needs to be done is clear: they must stop allowing PKK’s stores, activities, organizations, individuals and other forms of presence in these countries,” Kalin said.
“Joining NATO is always a process. We will see how things turn out. But this is the first point we want to bring to the attention of all allies as well as the Swedish authorities,” he added. “Of course we want to have a discussion, a negotiation with our Swedish counterparts.”
Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, has officially supported enlargement since joining the US-led alliance 70 years ago.
For years, he criticized Sweden and other European countries for their handling of organizations considered terrorist by Turkey, including Fethullah Gulen’s followers.
Article 5 of the NATO founding treaty states that an attack on any NATO country should be considered an attack on all. While Sweden and Finland have long had close relations with NATO, they are not covered by its security guarantee.
Turkey has criticized Russia’s invasion, helped arm Ukraine – which is not a NATO member – and has sought to facilitate talks between the two sides, but opposes sanctions against Moscow. He wants NATO to “address the concerns of all members, not just some,” Kalin said.
Asked if Turkey was in danger of appearing in exchange for wartime and when Finnish and Swedish public opinion was in favor of NATO membership, he said: “One hundred percent of our population is very upset by the presence of the PKK and FETO (Gulenists) in Europe “.
“If they (Finland and Sweden) have an audience that is concerned about their national security, we have an audience that is equally concerned about their own security,” he said. “We have to look at this from a mutual perspective.”
Kalin said Russia’s strong criticism of Finland and Sweden over their plans was not a factor in Turkey’s stance.