Erdogan hints Finland could join NATO without Sweden – DW – 01/30/2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested that Ankara could approve Finland’s application for NATO membership before deciding on Sweden’s proposal.

The NATO military alliance is scheduled to hold a meeting in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, in July. Hungary and Turkey are the only two countries in this alliance that have not ratified the accession of Sweden and Finland, and this requires the agreement of all member states.

What did Erdogan say about Finland’s proposal to NATO?

In a pre-recorded video released on Sunday – in which he is addressing young people in the central western province of Bilcek – Erdogan said Turkey could approve Finland’s NATO membership, but not Sweden.

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“If needed, we can give another message about Finland,” Erdogan said. “Sweden will be shocked when we give a different message about Finland.”

“If you absolutely want to join NATO, you will return these terrorists to us,” Erdogan said, referring to Ankara’s request to Sweden for the extradition of Kurdish militants.

Earlier this week, Finland hinted that it could join the NATO military alliance separately from Sweden if no progress is made on the Stockholm proposal.

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“If it turns out that Sweden’s request has been stalled for a long time, we will have to assess the situation,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Havisto.

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland jointly applied to join NATO, ending their long-standing military non-commitment.

Tension between Turkey and Sweden

Turkey has accused Stockholm of supporting militias and groups it blames for a failed 2016 coup.

Ankara has also been angered by Danish-Swedish far-right activist Rasmus Paludan, who burned a copy of the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. After the far-right protested, Erdogan told Sweden not to count on Turkish support for Stockholm’s NATO bid.

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Norway, Denmark and Sweden issued a travel advisory asking Turkish citizens to avoid large gatherings due to demonstrations against the burning of Paludan’s Koran. On Saturday, Turkey followed suit, issuing a travel advisory for Europe citing the risk of “Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist attacks.”

Earlier this month, Turkey summoned Sweden’s ambassador over a video showing Erdogan hanging from a rope during a demonstration in Stockholm.

sdi/fb (AP, AFP)


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