Longstanding NATO member Turkiye is following the discussion over Finland and Sweden seeking to join the alliance, but for now does not have a positive view, said the nation’s president on Friday.
“We are currently following developments. We currently do not have a positive position on the issue of Sweden and Finland (joining NATO),” Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayer in Istanbul.
Saying that those “Scandinavian countries are like terrorist groups guesthouses,” Erdogan added: “There are supporters of terrorism in parliament. We cannot be positive towards this.”
In July 2020, Turkiye slammed a video meeting between Sweden’s foreign minister and members of the terrorist group YPG/PKK, the Syrian branch of the PKK. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the incident “raises serious question marks about Sweden’s approach to combating terrorism as a matter of priority.”
Under NATO rules, any decision on enlargement must be made “by unanimous agreement,” effectively giving Turkiye the power to veto any new members.
US move on YPG/PKK ‘unacceptable’
Turning to a US decision to lift sanctions on YPG/PKK-held regions in Syria, Erdogan stressed that the YPG/PKK is a terror group and that “Turkiye cannot accept” such a decision.
“We do not have the luxury of disregarding terrorists. We say this to all countries that seem friendly to us,” he said, urging them to “take care” with their actions.
The YPG remains in control of large swathes of northeastern Syria with US backing.
The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in Turkiye and the US. But Washington has refrained from similarly designating the YPG/PKK and continues to partner with it in the region against the Daesh/ISIS terror group despite adamant protests from Ankara.
On Turkiye’s Operation Claw-Lock in Zap, northern Iraq, launched in April to fight PKK terrorist hideouts across the Turkish border, Erdogan said, “Currently, 82 terrorists have been neutralized as part of Operation Claw-Lock as of yesterday.”
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, PKK has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.