Rear Admiral Cihat Yayci, formerly chief of staff of the Turkish Naval Forces Command, suggested Sweden’s joining of NATO was compromised by the presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sweden. The Kurdish militant group, which reportedly held meetings in Sweden over the weekend, has been banned as terrorists by the United States and EU. Rear Admiral Yayci claimed the Turkish have “suffered a lot” at the hands of the group, which has been fighting an insurgency against the Turkish state for nearly half a century.
Appearing on Tom Swarbrick’s LBC show, Rear Admiral Yayci said: “It’s not possible for Turkey to support Sweden joining the pact given that the Nordic countries are home to many terrorist organisations.
“We are struggling with those terrorist organisations. We have lost 40,000 people’s lives during 30 years.
“In July 2016, they made a coup. Fortunately it was unsuccessful but we have suffered a lot.
“Why, if they are going to be an ally to NATO, are they not restricting the terrorists of those organisations?
“What needs to be done is very clear. They need to stop allowing PKK outlets, organisations, individuals, and other types of presence to exist in those countries.”
The PKK is a Kurdish militant political organisation and armed guerrilla movement, which historically operated throughout Kurdistan.
It is now primarily based in the mountainous Kurdish-majority regions of southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.
The organisation’s goal is to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey, as well as in northern Iraq and parts of Iran and Syria.
In 2016, there was a flare-up of fighting in some south-eastern urban districts of Turkey.
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The terrorist group has had an office in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, since 2016.
Sweden’s involvement with the group relates to their “collaboration in the fight against Daesh”, another militant group in Syria, according to Ms Linde.
But NATO officials have dismissed suggestions these Turkish concerns could jeopardise Sweden’s accession.
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said: “I’m confident that we will be able to address the concerns that Turkey has expressed in a way that doesn’t delay the membership.”