Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday proposed that Sweden and Finland join NATO at different times after accusing both countries of supporting groups that Turkey considers terrorists.
Turkey and Hungary are the only two countries that have not yet ratified the Nordic countries’ accession to the 30-member alliance, which operates by consensus.
At a press conference at the inaugural summit of the European political community, Turkey said it would not look favorably on Sweden as long as “terrorist organizations” demonstrated on its streets and in its parliament.
Erdogan said Turkey has better relations with Finland because it is “not a country where terrorists roam freely.”
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“NATO will have to make a possible decision, and if they make a decision that is in favor of Finland, of course we will do everything that we are obliged to do,” Erdogan said.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that Helsinki is positive about joining the alliance at the same time as Sweden.
“From our perspective, it would be very important that Finland and Sweden enter NATO together because we are both in the northern part of Europe, both in the same geopolitical security position,” she said. “But of course we will continue the discussion and it is now up to Turkey and also Hungary to make the decisions for ratification.”
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Erdogan’s comments came after Sweden said it would lift an arms embargo it imposed on Turkey in 2019, following a Turkish military operation against the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria. The move was widely seen as a move aimed at securing Ankara’s approval for its NATO membership.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.