Ankara: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has restated his opposition to Finland and Sweden joining the NATO, just hours after they said they would seek membership of the military alliance amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Addressing reporters on Monday, Erdogan said Turkey opposed the two Scandinavian countries’ bids to join NATO, describing Sweden as a “hatchery” for terrorist organisations, reports the BBC.
“Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation. How can we trust them?” he asked.
Erdogan is angered by what he sees as their willingness to host Kurdish militants.
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, the BBC reported.
All member states must agree that a new country can join NATO, therefore Sweden and Finland require Turkey’s support in their bid to join the military alliance.
Erdogan said Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother going to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bid.
His government has also pledged to block applications from countries that have imposed sanctions on it.
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 Erdogan.
Finland formally announced its bid to join NATO last week.
It was joined by neighbour Sweden on May 14 .
“NATO will strengthen Sweden, Sweden will strengthen NATO,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a briefing on Monday.
She said a formal application could be handed within several days and would be synchronised with Finland.
However, Andersson stressed that Sweden did not want permanent Nato bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.
Norway, Denmark and Iceland, all NATO members, immediately said they were ready to support Sweden and Finland by all means necessary if they came under attack.
The UK, also a NATO member, has already given security guarantees to Sweden and Finland to cover the transition period.