Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today that it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to support plans by Finland and Sweden to join the pact, Reuters reports. Erdogan claimed the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organizations.”
Turkey has officially supported the enlargement of NATO since it first joined 70 years ago. But its opposition to Finland and Sweden could become a problem for the two countries because new members need unanimous agreement.
Finland announced yesterday its plan to apply for NATO membership. Sweden is expected to soon follow.
These plans would bring about the expansion of the military and defense alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent, claiming it was part of the reason he invaded Ukraine.
Erdogan told reporters that they are following developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but that they do not hold positive views.
He said that Turkey does not want to repeat mistakes, like accepting Greece as a member. He did not elaborate on this comment.
Nor did he elaborate on claims that Scandinavian countries are “guesthouses for terrorist organizations.”
He said that terrorists are even members of the parliament in some countries, and therefore Turkey is not able to be in favor of them being added.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Finns would be “warmly welcomed” and promised there would be a “smooth and swift” accession process, which is massively backed by the United States.
Turkey has repeatedly slammed Sweden as well as Western European countries for how it handles organizations that Turkey deems to be terrorists, including the Kurdish militant groups PKK and YPG.
Experts and researchers say that Turkish national security elites see Finland and Sweden as “semi-hostile” because of the presence of PKK and Gulenists.
NATO states that membership is open to any “European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.
Sweden and Finland are already NATO’s closest partners.
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