Erdogan says Turkey does not have ‘positive opinion’ on Sweden, Finland joining NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed opposition to Finland and Sweden joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

He accused both countries of harbouring “terrorist organisations” and said Turkey does not have a ”positive opinion” about them.

Citing a “mistake” made by Turkey’s former rulers who approved Greece’s NATO membership in 1952, Erdogan said he does not want to repeat it.

He had previously condemned the Nordic countries for harbouring extremist Kurdish groups as well as supporters of a US-based preacher, Fethullah Gulen who was wanted over a failed 2016 coup. 

Following Erdogan’s statement, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington is “working to clarify Turkey’s position”.

She added that other members of NATO have shown broad support to Finland and Sweden for becoming members of the transatlantic alliance.

Also read | Russia to suspend Finland’s electricity supply amid NATO membership rift

According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “Turkey is a valued NATO ally; that has not changed.”

”They have been involved and helpful in trying to get dialogue going between Russia and Ukraine, and they have provided assistance to Ukraine. So nothing changes about their standing in the NATO alliance,” he added.

Finland and Sweden want to become a part of NATO to deter Russian aggression after it invaded Ukraine. But for this, they need unanimous approval by all members, and Turkey’s stance can act as a potential obstacle to the nations’ membership bid. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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