Turkey Confirms Opposition for Sweden, Finland's NATO Bid

Turkey Confirms Opposition for Sweden, Finland's NATO Bid

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his country’s opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, dismissing a suggestion from the Nordic countries to send delegates to Ankara to discuss the issue.

“We will not say ‘yes’ to those (countries) who apply sanctions to Turkey to join security organization NATO,” Erdogan said at a news conference on Monday, referring to Sweden’s 2019 decision to suspend arms sales to Turkey over its military operation in neighboring Syria, Al Jazeera reported.

Turkey also accused the two bidding nations of harboring “terror” groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.

“Neither of the countries have a clear stance against terror organizations,” Erdogan said. “How can we trust them?”

Justice ministry sources told the state news agency Anadolu on Monday that Sweden and Finland had failed to respond positively to Turkey’s 33 extradition requests over the past five years.

Ankara wanted individuals that are either accused of having links to the PKK and allied groups or of belonging to a movement blamed for the attempted overthrow of Erdogan in 2016, the agency reported.

Turkey has rebuked Stockholm especially for showing what it describes as leniency towards the PKK, which has waged an armed uprising against the Turkish state since 1984.

The Swedish foreign office said earlier on Monday that senior representatives of Sweden and Finland were planning to travel to Turkey for talks to address Ankara’s objections.

Erdogan reacted to the comments by saying: “Will they come to persuade us? Excuse us, but they shouldn’t bother”. He added that NATO would become “a place where representatives of terrorist organizations are concentrated” if the two countries join.

Ankara’s approval will be necessary for Finland and Sweden to be able to join NATO, as membership bids must be unanimously approved by the alliance’s 30 members.

Ankara’s latest rebuke came after Sweden’s government formally decided to apply for NATO membership. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson made the announcement on Monday, a day after Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed that Finland will also apply for membership.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday stated that Sweden and Finland would be able to join NATO despite Turkey’s concerns. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said he was confident “that we will be able to address the concerns that Turkey has expressed”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is scheduled to meet with Blinken in Washington on Wednesday, where Ankara’s objections are expected to figure high on the agenda.

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