President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday (13 May) it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact, saying the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organisations”.
Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership, announced Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent by launching the Ukraine invasion.
Turkey has been officially supportive of enlargement since it joined NATO 70 years ago. Any decision on enlargement must be made by unanimous agreement of its members.
“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guest houses for terrorist organisations,” Erdogan said.
“They are even members of the parliament in some countries. It is not possible for us to be in favour,” he added.
Swedish Foreign Ministry could not immediately comment on Erdogan’s statement.
NATO states that membership is open to any “European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Finland and Sweden, should they formally apply to join the world’s biggest security organization, would be welcomed with open arms.