Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has thrown Sweden and Finland’s potential NATO membership into doubt, just as both countries are on the cusp of applying to join the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told press in Istanbul on Friday.
NATO ascension for a new member state requires consensus approval from all existing members. Turkey joined NATO in 1952, and has the second-largest military in the 30-member alliance after the United States. Erdogan referenced the Nordic countries’ hosting of members of the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist group.
The countries are “home to many terrorist organizations,” Erdogan claimed. He also referenced NATO’s acceptance of Greece as a member in 1952 as a mistake. Turkey and Greece are longtime rivals and have fought in conflicts against one another even as NATO members.
“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said. “They are even members of the parliament in some countries,” he added. “It is not possible for us to be in favor.”