Erdogan Tells Finnish & Swedish Leaders To Get “Serious” About Terrorism In Tense Call
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised objections directly with the leaders of Finland and Sweden over their twin bids to join the NATO alliance in separate phone calls on Saturday. Both leaders had met with President Joe Biden at the White House two days prior where they attempted to give assurances that they would “commit to Turkey’s security” if admitted to NATO.
In the calls with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan stressed that they must get serious about dealing the “terrorist” Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK. In prior days both the Turkish president and his foreign minister have issued a firm ‘no’ on the possibility of the Scandinavian countries joining the alliance.
The Turkish presidency’s office said Erdogan conveyed to Sweden that Stockholm must take “concrete and serious steps” against the PKK and other linked Kurdish groups. Ankara has long seen them as ‘terrorists’ despite much of the West allying with the Syrian YPG in Syria, which Turkey sees as but an extension of the PKK.
And additionally he told Finland’s Niinisto “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 a statement. Both countries were also asked to lift EU arms restrictions to Turkey imposed in 2019.
Turkey’s Daily Sabah summarized the demands laid out in what were clearly tense phone calls as follows:
Ankara expects Stockholm to take serious steps to address its concerns with regards to the terrorist groups, he said, adding that the claim that PKK/YPG terrorists were fighting the Daesh terrorist group, did not reflect reality.
Sweden’s arms restrictions on Turkey was another subject brought up during the conversation. Erdoğan said Turkey’s cross-border military campaigns in northern Syria were a result of a necessity caused by a terrorist threat in the region, and Ankara expects Stockholm to lift the restrictions.
Erdogan had also reportedly called NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to convey Turkey’s position, to which the NATO chief said the alliance would take the security concerns seriously.
In response to Turkey’s latest days of official protests and amid the diplomatic maneuvering seeking to smooth its concerns, the US Statement Department described that the dispute is not being approached as a “bilateral issue”.
As Reuters reported, “Turkey’s approach to the NATO accession process of Sweden and Finland is not a bilateral issue between Washington and Ankara, the U.S. State Department said on Friday, but added that Washington was speaking with Ankara and it remained confident that the dispute would be overcome.”
Last week Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu conveyed to a meeting of NATO diplomats that majority of Turkish citizens – which is the country that also happens to possess the alliance’s second largest military – are adamantly opposed to Sweden and Finland’s membership. Thus Erdogan’s AK Party government in its attempt to block their paths to NATO is also playing heavily to its domestic base.
Sat, 05/21/2022 – 18:00
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