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Erdogan says Turkey does not support Finland and Sweden joining NATO

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ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogans said Friday (May 13) that it was not possible for NATO member Turkey to support Sweden and Finland’s plans to join the pact, saying the Nordic countries were home to “many terrorist organizations”.

Although Turkey has officially supported enlargement since joining NATO 70 years ago, its opposition could pose a problem for Sweden and Finland as new members need unanimous agreement.

Finland’s plan to seek NATO membership, announced on Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would lead to the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent by launching the invasion of Ukraine.

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t have positive opinions,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that it was a mistake for NATO to accept Greece as a member. in the past.

“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. Moreover, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said.

“They are even parliamentarians in some countries. It is not possible for us to be for it,” he added.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Finns would be “warmly welcomed” and promised a “simple and fast” membership process, also backed by Washington.

But Turkey has repeatedly criticized Sweden and other Western European countries for its handling of organizations seen as terrorist by Ankara, including the Kurdish militant groups PKK and YPG, and supporters of the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. United States.

Ankara claims the Gülenists attempted a coup in 2016. Gülen and his supporters deny the charge.

“Turkish national security elites view Finland and Sweden as semi-hostile, given the presence of the PKK and Gulenists. research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, on Twitter.

The Swedish and Finnish foreign ministries did not immediately comment on Erdogan’s statement.

NATO says membership is open to “any European state in a position to promote the principles of this treaty and contribute to the security of the North Atlantic region”.

Finland and Sweden are already NATO’s closest partners, attending numerous meetings, being regularly briefed on the situation in Ukraine and taking part in regular military exercises with NATO allies. Much of their military equipment is interoperable with NATO allies.

However, they cannot benefit from NATO’s collective defense clause – whereby an attack on one ally is an attack on all – until they join the alliance.

Moscow called Finland’s announcement Thursday hostile and threatened retaliation, including unspecified “military-technical” measures.

Turkey has criticized the Russian invasion, sent armed drones to Ukraine and sought to facilitate peace talks between the parties. But he has not backed Western sanctions against Moscow and seeks to maintain close trade, energy and tourism ties with Russia.

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