Turkey ramps up fight against NATO expansion bids in ominous security warning to EU

Expert: Turkey will eventually lift NATO 'blockade'

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the nation’s commitment to NATO was unchanged, and he called on allies to focus their efforts on “persuading” the candidate countries.

Writing in The Economist, he said that “the admission of Sweden and Finland [to NATO] entails risks for its own security and the organisation’s future”.

He argued that he was doing NATO members and the EU a favour adding: “Turkey’s objection to the admission of Sweden and Finland … represents a decisive step taken on behalf of all nations that have been targeted by terrorist organisations to date.”

He continued: “Sweden’s and Finland’s uncompromising insistence on joining the alliance has added an unnecessary item to NATO’s agenda.

“There is no authority in Ankara that can be told what to do by any country that is unwilling to fight terrorism.”

On Monday, a chief adviser to Turkey’s president told his US counterpart that Turkey wanted “concrete steps” on the existence of what it calls “terrorist organisations” in Finland and Sweden.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Ibrahim Kalin, chief foreign policy adviser to President Erdogan, spoke on Monday to discuss the NATO bids and the war in Ukraine.

Turkey has objected to the two countries’ joining the Western defence alliance on the grounds that they harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and others it deems terrorists, and because Finland and Sweden halted arms exports to Turkey in 2019.

In a statement, the Turkish presidency said Kalin had told Sullivan in a phone call that nations wanting to join NATO must “internalise the alliance’s values and principles on security and counter-terrorism.”

“It was emphasised that it is imperative for Sweden and Finland to take concrete steps regarding the terrorist organisations that threaten Turkey’s national security,” it added.

The White House said Sullivan in the call “expressed support for Turkey’s continued direct talks with Sweden and Finland to resolve concerns over their applications for NATO membership, which the US strongly supports.”

Sweden and Finland have said they condemn terrorism and are open to dialogue.

All 30 NATO members must approve plans to enlarge the alliance.

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Mr Sullivan also “reiterated the importance of refraining from escalation in Syria to preserve existing ceasefire lines and avoid any further destabilisation,” the White House said.

On Tuesday, Communications Director of the Turkish President, Fahrettin Altun told Finland’s largest daily Helsingin Sanomat by email that Finland has to stop “protecting” what Turkey considers a terrorist organisation and take Turkey’s security concerns seriously if it wants Turkey to accept it in NATO.

He wrote: “The problem is not that Finland would not understand Turkey. Finland refuses to take Turkey’s security concerns seriously.”

“Eventually Finland’s government must decide which is more important, to join NATO or protect these kinds of organisations,” he added.

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