Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called the two Scandinavian countries a “hatchery” for “terrorists”, linked to what Ankara sees as the hosting of those it considers terrorists. President Erdogan accuses Sweden and Finland of harbouring Kurdish militants, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party and the followers of Turkish preacher and businessman, Fethullah Gulen.
Ankara blames the latter for a failed coup attempt in 2016.
But after President Erdogan raised his objections to the new members – which must be unanimously approved by all 30 NATO states – Germany’s foreign minister dismissed the idea that Turkey’s reservations will cost the two countries their entrance to the alliance.
Annalena Baerbock acknowledged that there are “outstanding issues from the Turkish side”, but she said she was “very confident” that the two new prospective members would be accepted.
She said the disputes were being “discussed”, adding: “ I am very confident there will be a quick accession because everyone knows this is a decisive, historic moment in a very dramatic situation.”
She went on to say that, should the negotiations on their membership become an extended process, Sweden and Finland could still rely on security reassurances from NATO.
Erdogan did not mince his words when he said during a news conference: “Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisations.”
He added: “How can we trust them?”
He then said NATO would then become “a place where representatives of terrorist organisations are concentrated” if the alliance assented to Sweden and Finland joining.
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She then described the readjusted world reality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, commenting: “We are leaving one era behind us and entering a new one.”
President Erdogan said the two countries should not attempt to win his approval by sending delegations to Ankara, as Sweden had said it would do.
The Turkish President dismissed these plans, saying: “They are coming to Turkey on Monday.
“Are they coming to convince us? Excuse me but they should not tire themselves.”
However, Ankara’s stance goes against that of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who said Finland and Sweden would be “welcomed with open arms”.
He added: “I’m confident we will be able to address the concerns Turkey has expressed in a way that doesn’t delay the membership.”