Turkey has demanded that NATO respect its security concerns, and has stated that it will not accept the bids of Sweden and Finland to join NATO, as it would leave the military alliance less secure due to the two countries allegedly harboring terrorists.
“We are one of the top countries that actively support the activities of the (NATO) alliance, but this does not mean we will agree to every proposal without question,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a speech in parliament on Wednesday, adding that “NATO expansion is only meaningful for us in proportion to the respect that will be shown to our sensitivities.”
Erdogan added that Turkey expects NATO to respect its national security concerns, particularly when it comes to counter-terrorism efforts, and “provide support if possible.”
He went on to say that Sweden and Finland should not expect Ankara to accept their membership requests as long as “terrorists and their accomplices” continue “openly roaming their streets,” and that delegations from the two countries shouldn’t bother coming to Turkey to try and convince Ankara to back their bids.
“So you won’t give us back terrorists but you ask us for NATO membership? NATO is an entity for security, an organization for security. Therefore, we cannot say ‘yes’ to this security organization being deprived of security,” Erdogan said.
Turkey claims that Sweden and Finland both harbor people that Ankara deems to be linked to terrorist groups such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), and followers of Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara considers to be the mastermind behind the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Both Helsinki and Stockholm have for years refused Turkey’s request for the extradition of 33 individuals accused of terrorism, for which Erdogan has branded the countries “guesthouses” for terrorist groups.
On May 15, the two Nordic nations officially decided to break with their history of neutrality and seek NATO membership, but their attempts have been undercut by Turkey as the acceptance of new countries to the bloc requires the unanimous consent of all members.