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Turkey’s Erdogan to speak to Finland on May 21 as NATO application row simmers

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan. File photo

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan. File photo | Photo Credit: Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will speak to Finland on May 21, while maintaining his opposition to Finnish and Swedish NATO membership bids over their history of hosting members of groups which Ankara deems terrorists.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on May 18, following Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Erdogan said he had discussed the issue with the Dutch prime minister on May 20 and would also speak to Britain on May 21. He did not specify the people he would speak to in Finland and Britain.

"Of course we will continue all these discussions for the sake of not interrupting diplomacy," Mr. Erdogan told reporters.

Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Western leaders have expressed confidence that Ankara's objections will not be a roadblock for the NATO accession process of the Nordic countries without spelling out how Turkey's position could be changed.

The Turkish president on May 20 criticised the West for not viewing the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist group while viewing the PKK as such. Turkey views both groups as identical.

"Currently there is a terrorist organisation in many European countries, especially in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Sweden, in Finland and in France," he said.

Mr. Erdogan has previously said that Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bids and that "terrorists" would have to be returned to Turkey before approval is given.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2022 2:00:26 am |