Saturday May 28, 2022

Turkey opposes Nato membership for Finland, Sweden

May 14, 2022

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey did not have a "positive opinion" on Finland and Sweden joining Nato, throwing up a potential obstacle for the nations’ membership bid.

The leader of Nato-member Turkey spoke ahead of expected confirmations from the Nordic nations on Sunday that they will apply to join the Western military alliance. Erdogan accused both countries of harbouring "terrorist organisations" in his unfavourable assessment of the membership bids.

"We do not have a positive opinion," Erdogan told journalists after Friday prayers in Istanbul. "Scandinavian countries are like a guesthouse for terror organisations," he said. Turkey has long accused Nordic countries, in particular Sweden, which has a strong Turkish immigrant community, of harbouring extremist Kurdish groups as well as supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher wanted over the failed 2016 coup.

Erdogan cited a "mistake" made by Turkey’s former rulers who greenlit Greece’s Nato membership in 1952. "We, as Turkey, do not want to make a second mistake on this issue," he said.

Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has swung political and public opinion in Finland and Sweden in favour of membership as a deterrent against Russian aggression. Both countries have long cooperated with Nato, and are expected to be able to join the alliance quickly.