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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that his country does “not have a favorable opinion” about Sweden and Finland joining NATO, arguing that the Scandanavian countries are “guesthouses” for anti-Turkey “terrorist organizations.”
The Turkish leader explained his opposition by citing Sweden and other Scandinavian countries’ alleged support for Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers to be terrorists, the Associated Press reports.
“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Erdogan said in Istanbul.
“Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organizations,” Erdogan added, according to Reuters.
Erdogan said he also did not want to repeat Turkey’s past “mistake” from when it agreed to readmit Greece into NATO’s military wing in 1980. He claimed the action had allowed Greece “to take an attitude against Turkey by taking NATO behind it.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Finland and Sweden, should they formally apply to join the world’s biggest security organization, would be welcomed with open arms.
The accession procedure could be done in “a couple of weeks,” several NATO officials have said, although it could take around 6 months for member countries to ratify the accession protocol.
Erdogan did not say outright that he would block any accession attempt the two Nordic nations might make, but NATO takes all its decisions by consensus, meaning that each of the 30 member countries has a potential veto over who can join.
Meanwhile, a report by the Swedish government on the changed security environment facing the Nordic country after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine says Moscow would react negatively to Sweden joining NATO and launch several counter-measures.
The Swedish government’s security policy analysis, which will be used as a basis for Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Cabinet to decide whether to seek membership in the Western military alliance, was presented to Swedish lawmakers Friday.
Sweden’s governing Social Democratic Party, led by Andersson, is expected to reveal its decision on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.