PRAGUE (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday there was a difference in Sweden’s and Finland’s approaches to meeting Turkey’s security demands for them to join NATO, suggesting that they could join NATO at different times.
Turkey had threatened to block Sweden and Finland from joining the 30-member defense alliance, accusing Stockholm and – to a lesser extent – Helsinki of supporting groups Ankara considers terrorists.
NATO works by consensus and the two Nordic countries need Turkey’s approval to join. The Turkish and Hungarian parliaments have yet to ratify their membership.
“As long as terrorist organizations are demonstrating in the streets of Sweden, and as long as terrorists are inside the Swedish parliament, there will be no positive approach from Turkey towards Sweden,” he said. added. Erdogan said at a press conference at the inaugural summit of the European Political Community.
Erdogan, however, said Turkey’s position towards Finland was more positive.
“Relations with Finland are quite different in nature from those between Sweden and Turkey,” Erdogan said. “Finland is not a country where terrorists roam free.”
The Turkish leader added: “NATO will have to make an eventual decision, and if they make a decision in favor of Finland, of course we will do whatever is asked of us.”
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Helsinki was in favor of joining the alliance along with Sweden.
“From our point of view, it would be very important for Finland and Sweden to enter NATO together because we are both in the northern part of Europe, both in the same geopolitical position of security”, he added. she says.
“But of course we will continue the discussion and it is now up to Turkey and also to Hungary to take the ratification decisions,” he added. adds Marin.
Last week, Sweden announced it would lift an arms embargo it imposed on Turkey in 2019, following a Turkish military operation against the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria. The move was widely seen as a step to gain Ankara’s approval for NATO membership.