As a NATO member, Turkiye will not agree to any enlargement that could leave the military alliance less secure, nor harm its own security, the Turkish president said Wednesday, laying out its concerns over Finland and Sweden’s push for NATO membership amid the Ukraine war.
"We expect our allies to understand our sensitivities (on counter-terror efforts), to show respect and to provide support if possible," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the parliamentary group meeting of Turkiye’s Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital Ankara.
"We are one of the top countries that actively support the activities of the (NATO) alliance, but this does not mean we will agree to every proposal without question," he said, adding that NATO enlargement can work if Turkiye’s sensitivities are respected.
Erdogan underlined Turkiye's need to protect its borders from terror groups.
It is "inconsistent" for Sweden and Finland to seek to join the military alliance when they provide support to PKK/YPG terrorists, he said.
Sweden refused to extradite terrorists to Turkiye, but dares to ask for NATO membership, he said.
Turkiye, a longstanding NATO member, has voiced objections to Finland and Sweden’s membership bids, criticizing the two Nordic countries for tolerating and even supporting terror groups like the YPG/PKK.
For any new member to join NATO, all the alliance’s members must agree unanimously, including Turkiye.
Over the last five years, both Sweden and Finland have failed to agree to Turkiye’s requests for the extradition of dozens of terrorists, including members of the PKK and FETO, the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkiye.
Last Friday, Erdogan said that certain Scandinavian countries act like “guesthouses” for terrorist groups.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Turkiye, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.
Senior representatives of Sweden and Finland are set to visit Turkiye in the coming days to hold official talks in Ankara to discuss their NATO membership bids, spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.