TURKEY: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday sparked threats to “freeze” the NATO membership bids of Sweden and Finland unless the military alliance complies with Ankara’s conditions.
At a NATO summit in Madrid in late June, Erdogan called out the two countries for their incapacity to do more on their part in the fight against terrorism and accused them of providing a haven for all outlawed Kurdish militants.
Speaking on Monday, the eve of the three-day summit with Russia and Iran, Erdogan gave reporters an official statement saying, “I want to reiterate once again that we will freeze the process if these countries do not take necessary steps to fulfil our conditions.”
He added, “We note that Sweden does not have a good image on this issue.”
Earlier this month, NATO initiated the accession procedures for Sweden and Finland after a deal was settled with Turkey, which had blocked the Nordic nations from joining.
Erdogan has accused these Nordic nations of providing shelter to Kurdish militants, specifically highlighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) he has sought to defeat and promote “terrorism”.
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Ned Price declined to comment directly on Erdogan’s remarks but made a general statement on Turkey’s yes sign to the Nordic membership during the NATO membership.
“Turkey, Finland and Sweden- they signed a trilateral memorandum in Madrid to set this process in motion,” Price told reporters.
“The United States will continue to work with those three countries to see to it that this accession process and ratification- here and around the world- is as swift and efficient as it can possibly be,” he added.
Erdogan awaits political and military talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian president Ebrahim Raissi on Tuesday to get access to armed intervention in northwest Syria. Ankara has been consistently threatening a military attack against Kurdish fighters waging an insurgency against the state along the border region.
Tehran and Moscow have refused to issue a green light in favour of this military operation.
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