• Finland wants to join NATO
  • Sweden is expected to do the same in its bid to join the alliance.
  • Turkey wants its security concerns considered

ISTANBUL, May 14 (Reuters) – Turkey has not closed the door on Sweden and Finland joining NATO, but wants negotiations with the Nordic countries and a crackdown on what it sees as terrorist activities, especially in Stockholm, the government said on Saturday. spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan.

“We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a national security issue for Turkey,” Ibrahim Kalin, who is also the president’s top foreign policy adviser, told Reuters in an interview in Istanbul.

Erdogan surprised NATO members and the two Nordic countries seeking membership by saying on Friday that Turkey could not support expanding the alliance because Finland and Sweden were “home to many terrorist organizations.”

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Any country seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance needs the unanimous support of the members of the military alliance. The United States and other member states have been trying to clarify Ankara’s position. read more

Sweden and its closest military partner, Finland, have so far remained outside NATO, which was founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The two countries are afraid of alienating their big neighbor, but their security concerns have increased since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Read more

Stockholm is widely expected to follow Helsinki’s lead and could apply to join the 30-nation military alliance as early as Monday. read more

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Kalin said the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, was fundraising and recruiting in Europe and that its presence is “strong, open and recognized” in Sweden in particular.

“What needs to be done is clear: They have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organizations, people and other types of presence… to exist in those countries,” Kalin said.

“NATO membership is always a process. We’ll see how things go. But this is the first point we want to bring to the attention of all allies, as well as the Swedish authorities,” he added. “Of course we want to have a discussion, a negotiation with the Swedish counterparts.”

‘MUTUAL POINT OF VIEW’

Turkey, NATO’s second-largest army, has officially supported expansion since joining the US-led alliance 70 years ago.

For years, he has criticized Sweden and other European countries for their handling of organizations Turkey considers terrorists, including followers of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty says that an attack against any NATO country must be seen as an attack against all. Although Sweden and Finland have long had close relations with NATO, they are not covered by its security guarantee.

Turkey has criticized Russia’s invasion, helped arm Ukraine, which is not in NATO, and tried to facilitate talks between the sides, but opposes sanctions against Moscow. He wants NATO to “address the concerns of all members, not just some,” Kalin said.

When asked if Turkey risked being too transactional in times of war, and when Finnish and Swedish public opinion is in favor of NATO membership, he said: “One hundred percent of our population is very upset with the presence of the PKK and FETO (gulenist) in Europe”.

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“If they (Finland and Sweden) have a public concerned about their own national security, we have a public equally concerned about our own security,” he said. “We have to look at this from a mutual point of view.”

Kalin said Russia’s strong criticism of Finland and Sweden for their plans was not a factor in Turkey’s position.

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Written by Jonathan Spicer, edited by Timothy Heritage

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



Reference-www.reuters.com

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