Turkey’s opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO has been restated by its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just hours after they said they would seek membership.
At a news conference on Monday, Mr Erdogan said Turkey opposed the Finnish and the Swedish bids to join NATO, describing Sweden as a “hatchery” for terrorist organisations.
“Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation. How can we trust them?” the Turkish president said.
Turkey had previously warned that it might oppose the move, with Erdogan calling the two Nordic countries “guesthouses for terrorist organizations.” He was referring to the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), which have been outlawed by Ankara.
Turkey accuses the two Nordic nations of harbouring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group it views as a terrorist organisation, and followers of Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.
Mr Erdogan’s government has also pledged to block applications from countries that have imposed sanctions on it.
In 2019, both Nordic nations slapped an arms embargo on Ankara after its incursion into Syria.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry said on Monday that senior officials from Helsinki and Stockholm would travel to Turkey to discuss the matter. Erdogan, however, indicated at the press briefing that such talks would be senseless.
In order to join the bloc, a country’s membership bid must be approved unanimously by all 30 members. It’s likely that Ankara will be pressed by the US to reverse its objections.
Speaking in parliament in Helsinki on Monday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he was surprised by Turkey’s stance, but added that his government was not interested in “bargaining” with Mr Erdogan.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur