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Why Turkey's Erdogan Remains Opposed To Sweden And Finland Joining NATO?

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference following a NATO summit, in Brussels, Belgium in this file photo from March 2022 (Image: Reuters)

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference following a NATO summit, in Brussels, Belgium in this file photo from March 2022 (Image: Reuters)

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, White House press secretary Jen Psaki and others are hoping that Erdogan does not vote to block Sweden and Finland’s entry into the bloc

The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Monday expressed his unhappiness over Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

He said Turkey will not say ‘yes’ and confirmed Ankara’s opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

“We will not say ‘yes’ to those (countries) who apply sanctions to Turkey to join security organization NATO,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

“They say they will come to Turkey on Monday. Will they come to persuade us? Excuse us, but they shouldn’t bother,” he further added.

Erdogan said that Sweden has failed to take a stance against terrorism and is also miffed with Stockholm since it suspended arms sales to Turkey since 2019 over its role in the conflict in Syria.

The Turkish president’s comments have shaken Swedish, Finnish, NATO and Biden administration officials as entry to NATO would require unanimous agreement among all 30 member countries.

Turkey is a veto-wielding NATO member and Swedish and Finnish officials are likely to visit Turkey to iron out any issues that Turkey may have.

The two Nordic countries this month announced their desire to join NATO but Erdogan’s comments will likely cause concern in both camps.

The issue that is disturbing Erdogan is Sweden’s association with the Kurdish outfit Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK) (aka Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

The outfit has been fighting an armed rebellion in a bid to secede from Iraq and Turkey and establish Kurdistan but has now changed its stance by demanding greater autonomy for the Kurd community in both nations.

Turkish forces are involved in an ongoing conflict with the Kurdish militia. The Kurdish militia received support from Sweden and the United States since it put up a fierce resistance against the Islamic State.

A report by Washington Post pointed out that Erdogan could be motivated to take this stance since Turkey will go to polls in 2023 and the Turkish nationalists would not want to see any accommodation with the PKK.

Sweden and the US, both were subjected to Erdogan’s ire, as he reprimanded both nations for supporting the Kurdish militia. Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that if Sweden and Finland decide to join NATO then it will be a national security issue for the country until Sweden stops support for terrorist organisations.

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