Delegations from these countries should not bother asking Ankara to approve their applications, president says
Turkey will not say "yes" to Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bids, the country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, adding that any attempts to persuade Ankara to change its position would be fruitless.
Both governments officially announced their intention to join the US-led military bloc this weekend. Turkey had previously warned that it might oppose the move, with Erdogan calling the two Nordic countries "guesthouses for terrorist organizations." He was referring to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP/C), which have been outlawed by Ankara.
"These countries do not have a clear unequivocal stance against terrorist organizations. Sweden is the incubation center of terrorist organizations. They bring terrorists to talk in their parliaments. We wouldn't say 'yes' to them joining NATO, a security organization They were going to come on Monday to convince us. Sorry, they don't have to bother," Erdogan said.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry said on Monday that senior officials from Helsinki and Stockholm would travel to Turkey to discuss the matter. Erdogan, however, indicated at the press briefing that such talks would be senseless.
In order to join the bloc, a country's membership bid must be approved unanimously by all 30 members. It's likely that Ankara will be pressed by the US to reverse its objections.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana had previously said he was sure his organization would be able to overcome Turkey's reservations.
Finland and Sweden decided to reconsider their long-standing policy of non-alignment following a major change in public opinion amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. According to recent polls, a majority in both countries now support NATO membership.
The decision of the countries to apply for NATO membership has been condemned by Moscow. In Russian President Vladimir Putin's opinion, the new development aggravates an already complicated international security situation.