By Ali Kucukgocmen
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to endorse their NATO bids.
The Swedish government has officially decided to apply for NATO membership, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday, a day after Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed that Helsinki would also apply for membership.
Turkey surprised its NATO allies last week by saying it would not view their candidacies positively, mainly citing their history of hosting members of groups Ankara considers terrorists.
At a press conference on Monday, Erdogan reiterated that Turkey would not endorse their NATO candidacy, calling Sweden a “breeding ground” for terrorist organizations and adding that it has terrorists in its parliament.
“None of these countries has a clear and open attitude towards terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said. “How can we trust them? »
Sweden’s foreign ministry said earlier on Monday that senior officials from Sweden and Finland planned to visit Turkey for talks to address Ankara’s objections.
“They are coming to Turkey on Monday. Are they coming to convince us? Excuse me, but they shouldn’t get tired,” Erdogan said of the planned visit.
Erdogan said NATO would become “a place where representatives of terrorist organizations are concentrated” if the two countries joined.
Ankara says Sweden and Finland are hosting people it believes are linked to groups it considers terrorists, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having orchestrated a coup attempt in 2016.
Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said on Monday that Sweden and Finland had not approved the repatriation of 33 people requested by Turkey.
Erdogan also said Turkey would oppose NATO offers from those who imposed sanctions on it. Sweden and Finland had imposed arms export embargoes on Turkey after its incursion into Syria in 2019.
NATO and the United States have said they are confident that Turkey will not delay Finnish and Swedish membership.
Diplomats said Erdogan would be under pressure to give in as Finland and Sweden would significantly strengthen NATO in the Baltic Sea.
Erdogan’s spokesman said on Saturday that Turkey had not closed the door on Sweden and Finland joining NATO, but wanted negotiations and a crackdown on what it sees as terrorist activities.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)