Turkey Will Agree to Sweden & Finland NATO Membership If S-400 Sanctions Are Lifted - Report
03:43 GMT 18.05.2022 (Updated: 04:02 GMT 18.05.2022)
© AP Photo / Burhan OzbiliciTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is surrounded by his bodyguards as he walks to the mausoleum of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on Republic Day in Ankara, Turkey. File photo
© AP Photo / Burhan Ozbilici
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on May 16 that his country could not approve Sweden and Finland's NATO membership, as these two countries imposed sanctions against Turkey in 2019 and have refused to extradite Kurds who Ankara believes are linked to the PKK.
Turkey has demanded that European countries end restrictions on the export of weapons, as well as the lifting of US sanctions for the purchased Russian S-400 systems, in return for agreeing to the membership of Sweden and Finland in NATO, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
Three senior Turkish officials told the agency that Ankara insists that Sweden and Finland “recognize its concerns about Kurdish militias – both inside Turkey and across its borders in Syria and Iraq.” They noted that, in addition to recognizing the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization, the same should be done with all groups associated with it.
Apart from that, Turkey reportedly demanded that Sweden and Finland, along with other European countries, end the arms export restrictions they imposed on Turkey following the Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria in 2019, aimed at pushing the Kurdish Defense Units (YPG) away from its border and create a so-called safe zone to encourage Syrian refugees to return home.
Turkey has designated the PKK and the YPG as a single terrorist organization.
Ankara has also other demands from the NATO alliance itself. One of them is the resumption of the program for the production of US F-35 fighters, from which Ankara was excluded after acquiring Russian S-400 systems. Ankara also demanded the US allow the purchase of dozens of F-16 aircraft and upgrade the kits for its existing fleet.
© Photo : Twitter/ @hakancopur1 Hakan Copur on Twitter
Hakan Copur on Twitter
© Photo : Twitter/ @hakancopur1
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey cannot agree to the membership of Sweden and Finland in NATO, since these countries have refused to extradite "terrorists" and imposed sanctions against Ankara. He added that the two Nordic nations should not bother sending delegations to convince Turkey of their bids.
In January, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Finland and Sweden, if they apply for NATO membership, will be able to quickly join the alliance. Sweden and Finland are going to apply for NATO membership on May 18.