Speaking at a meeting in Malatya province, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey will not make concessions when it comes to security and that “we stand firm with this understanding regarding the NATO membership of Sweden and Finland.”
Çavuşoğlu criticized Western countries’ reactions to Turkey’s cross-border counterterrorism operations and asked, "why are they concerned about the terrorists instead of the many lives, including police officers, soldiers and civilians, taken by these terrorist organizations?"
“Their aim is to strengthen the PKK/YPG. We clear terrorists from Iraq’s north with our operation Claw-Key. While clearing the region off terrorists we not only support Iraq in general but also support our Kurdish brothers living there. The biggest enemy of the Kurds is the PKK, the YPG.”
On the Nordic countries’ NATO bids, Çavuşoğlu continued: “What we ask of them is not something impossible. You support terrorist organizations – do not support them. You open your doors and host terrorist organizations, allow all kinds of their activities, shut your eyes to their financing. You lead to children being forcefully sent from there to Qandil or other areas.”
“If you want to be an ally, you cannot view Turkey as an enemy. You cannot sanction it due to its fight against terrorism,” Çavuşoğlu said, emphasizing that in the case of the continuation of these practices Sweden and Finland cannot be NATO members.
He also criticized Sweden for airing terrorist ringleaders' interviews on television. Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) recently interviewed one of the PKK terrorist organization’s ringleaders, Ferhat Abdi Şahin.
SVT also interviewed Salih Muslim, a prominent figure of the YPG, on May 25 in Syria’s north where he hid in a U.S. military base.
Russia’s war on Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to formally apply to join NATO on May 18.
But Turkey, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups such as the PKK and its Syrian wing, the YPG, as well as for weapons embargoes against the country.
While the two Nordic countries said talks to resolve the dispute would continue, Erdoğan said recently that Ankara had not received any responses to its demands, including stopping support for terrorist groups and lifting arms embargoes on Ankara and extraditing terrorism suspects it seeks.
Any bid to join NATO requires unanimous backing from each of its 30 members.
On the other side, he also criticized a double standard by Western countries, reminding that Greece blocked the NATO membership of Macedonia, which did not draw as much attention as Turkey voicing reservations on Sweden and Finland’s bids.
“Where were you when Greece was engaging in such caprice, while it blocked Macedonia’s NATO membership for 12 years? Where was the solidarity then?"
Underlining that one of NATO’s enemies is terrorism, Çavuşoğlu said: “In Madrid, we will hold a special round focusing on terrorism in NATO’s south. We congratulate the secretary-general. We also thank Spain.”
He continued that Turkey’s concerns have to be addressed and that this was conveyed to both NATO and other allies. “Our concerns have to be met with concrete steps, not empty words.”
Turkey recently said it does not consider next week's NATO summit as a final deadline for resolving its objections to Finland and Sweden joining the Western defense alliance.
NATO leaders will convene in Madrid on June 29-30. Turkey has been a NATO ally for more than 70 years and has the alliance's second-biggest army.