Turkey Not 'Closing Door' for Finland, Sweden in NATO But Wants Nations to Stop Backing Opposition

© AFP 2023 / OZAN KOSETurkish President's top foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalin answers AFP journalists' questions during an interview on November 13, 2021 at Dolmabahce Presidental Office in Istanbul.
Turkish President's top foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalin answers AFP journalists' questions during an interview on November 13, 2021 at Dolmabahce Presidental Office in Istanbul. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.05.2022
Sweden and Finland have stayed outside NATO since its founding in 1949 to oppose the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Both countries are expected to provide their applications to the bloc in the coming days and be accepted with "minimum delay."
Turkey has not blocked out Sweden and Finland joining NATO, but it does want talks with the Scandinavian nations and a crackdown on what it considers terrorist activity, particularly in Stockholm, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman.
"We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey," Ibrahim Kalin told the outlet in an interview.
The spokesman added that the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey, the US and the EU have labeled as a terrorist organization, is fundraising and recruiting across Europe and its presence is "strong, open, and acknowledged" in Sweden in particular.
"What needs to be done is clear: they have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organisations, individuals and other types of presence to...exist in those countries," Kalin said. "NATO membership is always a process. We will see how things go. But this is the first point that we want to bring to the attention of all the allies as well as to Swedish authorities."
Thus, Kalin noted that Turkey does want to "have a discussion, a negotiation with Swedish counterparts."
Russia's strong condemnation of Finland and Sweden over their plans, according to Kalin, had no bearing on Turkey's decision.
Notably, Turkey has condemned Russia's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, provided arms to Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, and attempted to broker negotiations between the two countries, although it opposed anti-Russian sanctions. NATO should "address the concerns of all members, not just some," according to Kalin.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for sessions on the second day of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland. (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.05.2022
‘Not Favorable’: Erdogan Opposes Letting Sweden, Finland into NATO
On Friday, Erdogan astounded some of Turkey's NATO allies and the two Nordic countries seeking membership when he said that Turkey could not back NATO expansion since Finland and Sweden were "home to many terrorist organizations."
Any country wishing to join the NATO alliance must have the support of all of the military bloc's members. The US and other members of the EU have attempted to clarify Ankara's position. Since joining the US-led alliance in 1952, Turkey, which has the second-largest military in NATO, has generally supported accession of the new members.
However, for years, Ankara has chastised Sweden and other European countries for their treatment of Turkish organizations labeled as terrorist, such as the followers of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Islamic preacher.
"One hundred percent of our population is very upset with the PKK and FETO (Gulenist) presence in Europe," Kalin said when asked if Turkey risked being too relational during a period of heightened tensions in Europe and when public opinion in Finland and Sweden favors NATO membership.
"If they have a public concerned about their own national security, we have a public that is equally concerned about our own security," he said. "We have to see this from a mutual point of view."
Both Nordic countries are reportedly cautious of confronting Moscow with their accession to NATO, but their security concerns have grown since February 24, when the Kremlin launched its special military operation in Ukraine.
On Saturday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said it was critical for Helsinki to maintain dialogue with Moscow in order to keep the Russian-Finnish border peaceful.
Stockholm is expected to follow Helsinki's lead and could submit an application to join the 30-nation military alliance as early as Monday.
An attack on any NATO country, according to Article 5 of NATO's founding treaty, should be considered an attack on all NATO countries. Despite having long had close ties with NATO, Sweden and Finland are not covered by its security guarantee.
 Swedish armed forces soldiers attend a rehearsal in front of the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.05.2022
Russia Has No Hostile Intentions Toward Finland and Sweden, Deputy Foreign Minister Grushko Says
In turn, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said that Moscow harbors no aggressive intentions toward Finland or Sweden, as "all this fits into the all-too-common 'search for an enemy', which entails, in practical political [and] military sense, a demonisation of Russia, assigning to [Russia] hostile intentions against some countries, while Russia absolutely cannot be suspected of such intentions."
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