Turkey has opposed Sweden’s offer to join the Western military alliance, claiming the country harbors ‘terrorists’.
Sweden must stop protests by supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Stockholm to get the green light for its NATO membership bid, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Secretary-General of NATO.
Erdogan told Stoltenberg in a phone call on Sunday that Turkey has a constructive attitude, but changing Sweden’s “terrorism” laws to meet demands from Ankara is “meaningless” while PKK supporters continue to hold protests in the country, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
Turkey has opposed Sweden’s offer to join the Western military alliance, citing security concerns, but bloc members and NATO chiefs have expressed hope that it will become a member in time for a mid-July summit. in Vilnius.
Finland joined NATO in April but Turkey continues to block Sweden’s membership. Last week, Erdogan said he did not expect a green light from Ankara on the Vilnius summit unless it clamped down on “anti-Turkey” protests.
New law is not enough for Ankara
Ankara says that Sweden has members of “terrorist” groups in the country, especially belonging to the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
Sweden recently introduced a new law to make it harder to finance or support “terrorist groups”, which Ankara says is not convincing enough.
Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billstrom on Wednesday said Turkey’s parliament should start approving Sweden’s bid because Stockholm has fulfilled its obligations under an agreement with Ankara.
Sweden and Finland both reversed decades of military non-alignment last year and applied to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Erdogan and Stoltenberg also discussed the latest developments in Russia and Sweden’s NATO membership, according to a statement from the presidency’s communications directorate.
The sides pointed out that the end of tensions with Russia “prevented the occurrence of irreversible humanitarian tragedies on the Ukrainian front,” the statement said.