Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held separate phone conversations Saturday with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg regarding the NATO membership application of the Nordic nations.
Erdoğan has stated numerous times in recent days that Turkey would not support Finland and Sweden to join NATO and accused them of being “like guesthouses for terror organizations.” Erdoğan claimed the two countries are harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan’s Workers Party, also known as PKK.
Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO last Wednesday. The decision represents a setback for Moscow, with the war in Ukraine triggering the kind of enlargement of the alliance that it invaded Ukraine to prevent. The entry of Finland would mean adding hundreds of miles of direct NATO borders with Russia.
During the phone call with Andersson, Erdoğan stated that “Turkey has for a long time emphasized that it is uncomfortable with Sweden’s contacts with individuals and so-called organizations under the control of the terrorist organization PKK/YPG/PYD and Sweden’s political, financial and weapon support to terrorist organizations must end,” according to a statement from the Turkish presidency.
The YPG is a Syrian Kurdish group in northern Syria supported by various Western countries. The YPG is an ally in the fight against ISIS, but Turkey considers it an extension of the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
Andersson said she appreciated speaking with the Turkish president today.
“We look forward to strengthening our bilateral relations, including on peace, security, and the fight against terrorism,” according to the prime minister’s Twitter account.
Erdoğan told Niinistö on the phone that “an understanding that ignores terrorist organizations that pose a threat to an ally within NATO is incompatible with the spirit of friendship and alliance,” according to the Turkish presidency.
Niinistö also wrote on his Twitter account about his “open and direct” conversation with Erdogan, saying:
“I stated that as NATO Allies, Finland and Turkey will commit to each other’s security and our relationship will thus grow stronger. Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The close dialogue continues.”
Erdoğan also told Stoltenberg on the phone that “unless Sweden and Finland clearly show that they will stand in solidarity with Turkey on fundamental issues, especially in the fight against terrorism, Turkey will not approach their NATO membership positively,” according to the presidency.
Stoltenberg said on his Twitter account that “we agree that the security concerns of all Allies must be taken into account and talks need to continue to find a solution.”
The legislatures of all 30 current members of the alliance must approve new applicants.