Erdoğan: Turkey not to let ‘terrorism-supporting’ countries enter NATO

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey‘s talks last week with Finnish and Swedish delegations were not at the “expected level” and Ankara cannot say yes to “terrorism-supporting” countries entering NATO, state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Sunday.

Turkey has objected to Sweden and Finland joining the NATO alliance, holding up a deal that would allow for a historic enlargement in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“For as long as Tayyip Erdoğan is the head of the Republic of Turkey, we definitely cannot say ‘yes’ to countries which support terrorism entering NATO,” he was cited as telling reporters on his return from a trip to Azerbaijan.

Erdoğan said: “Unfortunately, the talks held by our delegation with Finland and Sweden were not at the desired level.”

Saying that Sweden and Finland have expectations from these talks, Erdoğan said however that they have not taken the necessary steps on Turkey‘s demands and stressed that terrorists are even now still walking the streets of Stockholm while Sweden protects them “with their own police.”

Turkey challenged the bids from Sweden and Finland on the grounds that they harbour people linked to the bloody-minded PKK terrorist group and others it deems terrorists, and because they halted arms exports to Ankara in 2019.

“They are not honest or sincere. We cannot repeat the mistake made in the past regarding countries that embrace and feed such terrorists in NATO, which is a security organisation,” he said.

Sweden and Finland have said they condemn terrorism and welcomed the possibility of coordinating with Ankara.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO on May 18, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24. Turkey, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

Turkey last week hosted consultations with Swedish and Finnish delegations on their NATO applications in Ankara.

“AMERICA DOES NOT FULFILL ITS DUTY IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM”

On a possible new Turkish security operation in northern Syria, near the Turkish border, the president stressed that everyone has to do their part in fighting terrorism.

“If America does not fulfill its duty in the fight against terrorism, what will we do? We’ll fend for ourselves. Counter-terrorism cannot be done by seeking permission from elsewhere,” he added.

Turkey borders Syria and Iraq to its south, and has worked to eliminate existing terrorist bases and prevent new ones there that would threaten its national security and the safety of locals across its borders.

Turkey has long objected to the US working in northern Syria with the YPG/PKK, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, which has taken thousands of lives in Turkey.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK-listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU-has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

TURKEY AND ISRAEL MOVING TOWARDS BETTER TIES

Turning to ties with Israel, Erdoğan said the two countries will take steps to improve relations as the countries’ energy ministers are expected to hold talks along these lines.

On ties with Greece, Erdoğan once again slammed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over his comments made on Turkey during a recent official visit to the US.

Turkey has broken off its high-level strategic council with Greece as Mitsotakis is no longer fit to deal with, Erdoğan told reporters.

While in Washington, Mitsotakis argued against the US selling Turkey forty F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.