Erdoğan says Turkey does not support Finland and Sweden joining NATO

Source: Axios | May 13, 2022 | Zachary Basu

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday that his government does not support Finland and Sweden joining NATO, claiming the Scandinavian countries are home to Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”

Why it matters: A formal objection by Turkey would derail Finland and Sweden’s expected NATO applications, which must be approved by all 30 NATO allies. Finland’s leaders on Thursday officially expressed support for applying to NATO “without delay,” while Sweden’s ruling party is expected to follow suit on Sunday.

What they’re saying: “We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul, according to AP.

– Erdoğan said Turkey would not repeat the same “mistake” it made by allowing Greece to rejoin NATO’s military wing in 1980, arguing that Athens has used the alliance against Turkey in the two countries’ maritime dispute.

– “Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organizations,” Erdoğan said, according to Reuters. “They are even members of the parliament in some countries. It is not possible for us to be in favor.”

Between the lines: Turkey considers the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its offshoots — including militias that worked with the U.S. to defeat ISIS in Syria — to be terrorist organizations.

– Sweden is home to a sizable Kurdish population, and like other Western allies has remained supportive of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

– Turkey has been fighting armed Kurdish insurgents for decades, and launched an operation against Syrian Kurds in 2019 to create a “buffer zone” in northeastern Syria after former President Trump moved U.S. troops out of the area.


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