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Turkey conditions NATO bids of Finland, Sweden on backing in ‘fight against terrorism’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during a meeting of his Justice and Development party at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, on May 18, 2022. (Adem Altan/AFP)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during a meeting of his Justice and Development party at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, on May 18, 2022. (Adem Altan/AFP)

ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey won’t look “positively” on Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids unless its terror-related concerns are addressed, despite broad support from other allies including the United States.

Turkey has long accused Nordic countries, in particular Sweden, which has a strong Turkish immigrant community, of harboring extremist Kurdish groups as well as supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher wanted over the failed 2016 coup.

Erdogan’s threat throws a major potential obstacle in the way of the likely membership bids from the hitherto militarily non-aligned Nordic nations since a consensus is required in NATO decisions.

“Unless Sweden and Finland clearly show that they will stand in solidarity with Turkey on fundamental issues, especially in the fight against terrorism, we will not approach these countries’ NATO membership positively,” Erdogan tells NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in a phone call, according to the presidency.

On Twitter, Stoltenberg says he spoke with Erdogan “of our valued ally” on the importance of “NATO’s Open Door.”

“We agree that the security concerns of all Allies must be taken into account and talks need to continue to find a solution,” he says.

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