Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Sweden and Finland of supporting terrorism on Saturday, indicating that Ankara possible will not let up its opposition to the Scandinavian international locations becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Group amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“For so long as Tayyip Erdogan is the pinnacle of the Republic of Turkey, we positively can’t say ‘sure’ to international locations which assist terrorism coming into NATO,” Erdogan advised reporters as he returned from Azerbaijan on Saturday.
Sweden and Finland formally utilized to affix NATO earlier this month, which might signify a historic growth of the Western army alliance.
Whereas NATO Secretary-Basic Jens Stoltenberg has mentioned that the 2 Nordic international locations are welcome, however all 30 member nations should unanimously approve a rustic’s utility to affix the alliance.
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Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO stems from the Scandinavian international locations’ alleged assist for members of the Kurdistan Staff Celebration militant group (PKK), which Turkey and the U.S. think about a terrorist group.
The PKK, which desires to determine an ethnic homeland for the Kurds, has been at conflict with Turkey since 1984.
Sweden and Finland additionally halted arms gross sales to Turkey in 2019 after the nation launched an incursion into northern Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned Friday that he’s assured Turkey will have the ability to work out its variations with Sweden and Finland.
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“The USA totally helps Finland and Sweden becoming a member of the Alliance, and I proceed to be assured that each international locations will quickly be NATO Allies,” Blinken mentioned at a press convention alongside Finnish International Minister Pekka Haavisto.
“Finland and Sweden are talking on to and with Turkey, and dealing by means of a few of the considerations that Turkey has raised and discovering methods to handle them.”
The method for becoming a member of NATO often takes eight months to a yr, however the alliance has indicated it desires to expedite the approval amid Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
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Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov mentioned that Russia views Finland’s entry into NATO as a “risk,” although Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov later downplayed the transfer as making “no large distinction.”
Reuters contributed to this report.