Sunday. 05.02.2023
NATO-RUSSIA TENSIONS

Erdoğan holds firm on objection to Sweden, Finland joining NATO

Ankara also demands the extradition of alleged "terrorists" from both countries

FILED - 22 October 2019, Russia, Sochi: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan duirng a meeting. Putin and Erdogan will discuss by phone the situation in Ukraine in the context of Russia's continuation of its military operations in the country. Photo: -/Kremlin/dpa - ATTENTION: editorial use only and only if the credit mentioned above is referenced in full.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan duirng a meeting in 2019. Photo: Kremlin.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is sticking to his veto against Finland and Sweden's applications for membership in NATO, claiming the Nordic countries are soft on "terrorists."

"As long as Tayyip Erdoğan is at the head of the Turkish state, we cannot say 'Yes' to NATO accession of countries that support terror," Erdoğan said, according to Sunday's Hürriyet newspaper.

Ankara's talks with representatives of the two countries last week did not proceed as expected, Erdoğan told Turkish journalists on a flight back from Azerbaijan.

Finland and Sweden had not taken the expected steps in the fight against terrorism, he said.

Turkey is currently the only NATO member to publicly block the start of the process of admitting the two countries into the Western defence alliance.

'Terrorist organizations'

Ankara justifies its stance by citing Finland and Sweden's alleged support for what it considers "terrorist organizations," such as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Ankara also demands the extradition of alleged "terrorists" from both countries.

It is unclear which individuals are involved. According to Turkish media, the extradition list includes Ragip Zarakolu, a publisher who is critical of Erdoğan's government and lives in Sweden.

Erdoğan holds firm on objection to Sweden, Finland joining NATO
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