Turkey Erdogan discusses concerns with Nato hopefuls Sweden, Finland

ISTANBUL – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has objected to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, held phone calls with the leaders of the two countries on Saturday (May 21) and discussed his concerns about terrorist organisations.

Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party militant group and followers of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Mr Erdogan told Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that Ankara expected concrete steps to address its concerns, the Turkish presidency said. He also said an arms exports embargo imposed on Turkey after its Syria incursion in 2019 should be lifted, it added.

Ms Andersson said she appreciated the call and that Sweden hoped to strengthen bilateral relations with Turkey.

“I emphasised that Sweden welcomes the possibility of cooperation in the fight against international terrorism and emphasized that Sweden clearly supports the fight against terrorism and the terrorist listing of the PKK,” she added in a statement.

In another call, Mr Erdogan told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that failing to deal with terrorist organisations that posed a threat to a Nato would not suit the spirit of alliance, Ankara said.

Mr Niinisto said he held “open and direct” talks with Mr Erdogan and agreed to continue close dialogue.

“I stated that as Nato allies, Finland and Turkey will commit to each other’s security and our relationship will thus grow stronger,” Mr Niinisto tweeted after the call.

“Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Close dialogue continues.”

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join Nato on Wednesday, following Russia’s Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey surprised Nato allies last week by objecting to the two countries’ membership, but Western leaders have expressed confidence that Ankara’s objections will not be a roadblock for the Nato accession process.

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