NATO should understand security sensitivities of Turkey: Erdogan

1 month ago 13

ANKARA: President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday Sweden should not expect Turkey to approve its NATO bid without returning “terrorists”, and Swedish and Finnish delegations should not come to Turkey to convince it to back their NATO bids.

Earlier, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance, a decision spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the accession process expected to take only a few weeks despite Turkey’s objections.

“We have such a sensitivity as protecting our borders from attacks by terrorists organizations,” Erdogan told MPs from his AK Party in parliament.

Tayyip Erdogan said NATO allies had never supported Turkey in its fight against Kurdish militant groups, including the Syrian Kurdish YPG.

“NATO expansion is only meaningful for us in proportion to the respect that will be shown to our sensitivities,” he said.

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

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said on Monday Sweden and Finland had not granted approval for the repatriation of 33 people that Turkey requested.

“So you won’t give us back terrorists but you ask us for NATO membership? NATO is an entity for security, an organization for security. Therefore, we cannot say ‘yes’ to this security organization being deprived of security,” he said.

NATO and the United States have said they were confident Turkey would not hold up membership of Finland and Sweden.

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