Erdogan of Turkey: NATO membership of Sweden and Finland poses ‘risks’ for ‘the future of the organisation’

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Turkey’s president highlighted Kurdistan Workers’ Party activities amid his country’s objections to Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership and said both nations would pose security risks from Turkey.

The group known as the PKK led a 38-year insurgency against Turkey that left tens of thousands dead. It is designated as a terrorist entity by the United States and the European Union, including Sweden and Finland.

However, the West’s attitude towards the Syrian wing of the PKK, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, has caused acrimony between Ankara and other NATO members. The YPG form the backbone of the forces involved in the US-led fight against the Islamic State group.

“Turkey maintains that the admission of Sweden and Finland carries risks for its own security and the future of the organization,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote in an article published Monday evening by The Economist.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, May 14.
(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

TURKEY’S ERDOGAN ACCUSES SWEDEN AND FINLAND OF SUPPORTING TERRORISM, POTENTIALLY COUNTERFEITING NATO ASPIRATIONS

Referring to the central tenet of NATO’s mutual defense policy, he added: “We have every right to expect from those countries, which expect NATO’s second largest army to come in their defense under Article 5, that they prevent the recruiting, fundraising and propaganda activities of the PKK.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan holds a press conference during the NATO summit at the <a class=alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2021.”/>

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan holds a press conference during the NATO summit at the alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2021.
(Reuters/Yves Herman/Pool/File Photo)

All NATO members must approve offers from the two Nordic nations to join the alliance, which were propelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey has said it will not allow them to join unless action is taken, but NATO leaders see the NATO summit in Spain in late June as an opportunity for historic expansion.

Erdogan repeated his calls for Finland and Sweden to extradite people whom Ankara suspects of terrorist activities and to support “counter-terrorist operations by NATO members”.

He also said that arms embargoes were “incompatible with the spirit of military partnership”.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg displays documents as Sweden and Finland apply for membership in Brussels, Belgium, May 18.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg displays documents as Sweden and Finland apply for membership in Brussels, Belgium, May 18.
(AP/Johanna Geron)

Sweden and Finland were among the countries to impose defense export restrictions on Turkey following its 2019 incursion into northeastern Syria which was aimed at repelling the YPG. In recent days, Erdogan has promised a new cross-border operation against the group.

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The president described Turkey’s role in “arguably the greatest military alliance in history” since joining in 1952 and called on other NATO members to persuade Sweden and Finland to change their positions.

“The position of Sweden and Finland on the national security concerns and considerations of other countries, with which they would like to be allied, will determine the extent to which Turkey would like to be allied with these states,” he said. added.

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