Turkey has no problem with NATO’s enlargement or with Finland and Sweden becoming members of the trans-Atlantic alliance, a spokesperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said Thursday.
“The problem today is the support they (Finland and Sweden) give to terrorist organizations,” Çelik said.
“The issue is not that of convincing Turkey but the convincing of countries that want to be a member of NATO to cut their support of terrorist organizations.”
Turkey last week said it would not view the applications of Finland and Sweden positively, mainly citing their history of support to terrorist organizations, including the PKK and its Syrian wing, the YPG. In response to a Turkish operation against the PKK/YPG in 2019, Sweden and Finland, among others, imposed restrictions on arms exports to Turkey.
Over the last five years, both Sweden and Finland have failed to agree to Ankara’s requests for the extradition of dozens of terrorists, including members of the PKK and the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 has swung political and public opinion in Finland and neighboring Sweden in favor of NATO membership as a deterrent against Russian aggression.
Sweden and Finland formally submitted applications for NATO membership to Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in an online video ceremony earlier on Wednesday. Stoltenberg said the alliance would assess the membership bid as quickly as possible, but stressed that the security interests of all allies “have to be taken into account,” referring to Turkey’s objections.
All 30 members of the alliance must agree before new members can join.