The President of Turkey seeks more than “empty words” from Sweden, Finland about NATO
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he wants to see action from Finland and Sweden instead of “empty words” to agree to their accession to NATO.
Speaking before leaving for a NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday, Erdogan said the two candidates must consider Ankara’s concerns if they want to join NATO.
“We do not want dry words, we want results. We are tired of sending the ball around the midfield. From now on they produce words,” he said.
Erdogan’s spokesman and deputy foreign minister met with Swedish and Finnish officials in Brussels on Monday to discuss membership offers ahead of a four-way meeting with Turkey, Finland, Sweden and the United States at the summit.
“We will hold these four-way talks together and see what point they have reached,” Erdogan said.
At the end of decades of military neutrality, Sweden and Finland applied to join the US-led military alliance in the wake of tensions with Moscow over the Russian military campaign in Ukraine. All 30 NATO members must agree to bring in new members.
Erdogan says he cannot support Sweden’s proposal to join NATO’s military alliance as long as the two Nordic countries continue to provide support to terrorist groups against his country.
Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, has accused Sweden, and to some extent Finland, of providing refuge for elements linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gulen movement, which Ankara accuses of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan.
Both groups are considered terrorist groups by Turkey. The PKK is also on the US and EU terrorist lists.
The Turkish government has accused the two Nordic countries of giving refuge to the PKK and refusing to extradite its members.
In addition, Sweden and Finland, among others, also imposed restrictions on arms exports to Turkey following its military offensive against the YPG in 2019.
Elsewhere in his comments on Tuesday, the Turkish president said he would also press US President Joe Biden at the meeting on a “stopped” purchase of F-16 fighter jets. He said he would discuss the issue of Ankara’s procurement of the S-400 from Russia, which the United States opposes.
“Our most important discussion with the United States is the F-16 issue. It’s still on the table, but there is a halting tactic here,” he said.
Turkey made a request to the United States in October last year to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing fighter jets. Washington has so far refrained from expressing any opinion on the sale, saying it must go through the regular arms sales process.
The sale of US weapons to NATO ally Turkey was disputed after Ankara acquired the Russian-made S-400, which triggered US sanctions as well as Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet.