Posted 10 months ago
Turkey's president said he would block Sweden's and Finland's bids to become NATO members, complicating a major shift in European geopolitics prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday shared a video on Twitter of an interview he did with students a day earlier.
According to a translation by Reuters, he said: "We will continue our policy in a determined way. We have told allies that we will say no to Finland and Sweden's NATO membership."
Erdogan had previously suggested that he would block the bids of the two countries to join NATO. As a NATO member, Turkey has the power to veto any new countries seeking to join. NATO enlargement requires unanimous agreement from all current members.
But Erdogan has also hinted he wants concessions in order to drop his objection to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.
Turkey in recent years has criticized countries in the West over their support for Kurdish militants in the fight against ISIS that Ankara considers to be terrorists. The Turkish government has demanded Finland and Sweden extradite alleged members of such groups, while also calling for the Nordic countries to end embargoes on arms exports.
Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for Erdogan, on Saturday told Reuters that Turkey was "not closing the door" on Finland and Sweden joining NATO aspiration. "But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey," Kalin said.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO this week. It could take weeks or months for them to become members.
Despite Turkey's objections, both the White House and NATO have expressed confidence that Finland and Sweden will be welcomed into the alliance in a timely fashion. President Joe Biden on Thursday forcefully endorsed their NATO bids as he hosted Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the White House.
"Today, I am proud to welcome and offer the strong support of the United States for the applications of two great democracies and two close, highly capable partners to join the strongest, most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world," Biden said from the Rose Garden while standing alongside the Scandinavian leaders.
In subsequent remarks, Niinistö directly addressed Turkey's concerns.
"Finland has always had proud and good bilateral relations to Turkey," Niinistö said. "As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey's security, just as Turkey will commit to our security."
The Finnish leader said his country was "open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner."
Topic: World News
Tags: Turkey NATO Finland Sweden