Erdoğan says Turkey not supportive of Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday it was not possible for his country, NATO-member since 1952, to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact, saying the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organisations.” Any decision on the alliance’s enlargement must be made by unanimous agreement of its members.

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

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we do not hold positive views,” president Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul, adding it was a mistake for NATO to accept Greece, a country in a long-lasting conflict with Turkey, as a member in the past.

Turkey has been officially supportive of enlargement since it joined NATO 70 years ago. Any decision on the alliance’s enlargement must be made by unanimous agreement of its members.

“As Turkey, we do not want to repeat similar mistakes. Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organisations,” the Turkish president said. “They [‘terrorists’] are even members of the parliament in some countries - it is not possible for us to be in favour.”

The Swedish Foreign Ministry could not immediately comment on this statement. 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.”

Interested parties respond

“We have a very good and constructive relationship with Turkey, they have not directly presented such an opinion to us so far,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

She added that she had spoken to a representative of the Turkish authorities on Wednesday, and that bilateral diplomatic talks had taken place a few weeks ago on the topic of Sweden’s possible entry into NATO.

Ms Linde said she hoped that on Saturday the topic of Turkey’s position would be taken up at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, to which Finland is invited in addition to her country.

Also on Friday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said, as quoted by the AFP news agency, that he intended to “continue talks” with Turkish diplomatic chief Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.