Turkey Says Sweden, Finland Must Cut Ties With Terror Groups
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said Turkey would not look "positively" on Sweden and Finland's NATO bids unless its terror-related concerns were addressed despite broad support from other allies, including the United States, Fulya Ozerkan reported for Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Photo Insert: Erdogan refused to host delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey.
Turkey has long accused Nordic countries, in particular Sweden which has a strong Turkish immigrant community, of harboring outlawed Kurdish militants as well as supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher wanted over the failed 2016 coup.
Erdogan's threat throws a major potential obstacle in the way of membership for the hitherto militarily non-aligned Nordic nations since a consensus is required in NATO decisions.
"Unless Sweden and Finland clearly show that they will stand in solidarity with Turkey on fundamental issues, especially in the fight against terrorism, we will not approach these countries' NATO membership positively," Erdogan told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in a phone call, according to the presidency.
On Twitter, Stoltenberg said he spoke with Erdogan "of our valued ally" on the importance of "NATO's open door."
He added: "We agree that the security concerns of all allies must be taken into account and talks need to continue to find a solution," he said.
On Thursday, Stoltenberg said Turkey's "concerns" were being addressed to find "an agreement on how to move forward."
Erdogan, who refused to host delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey, held separate phone calls with the two countries' leaders on Saturday, urging them to abandon financial and political support for "terrorist" groups threatening his country's national security.