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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Sweden and Finland of supporting terrorism on Saturday, indicating that Ankara doubtless will not let up its opposition to the Scandinavian international locations becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Group amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“For so long as Tayyip Erdogan is the head of the Republic of Turkey, we undoubtedly can’t say ‘sure’ to international locations which assist terrorism coming into NATO,” Erdogan instructed reporters as he returned from Azerbaijan on Saturday.
Sweden and Finland formally utilized to hitch NATO earlier this month, which might characterize a historic enlargement of the Western army alliance.
Whereas NATO Secretary-Common Jens Stoltenberg has stated that the 2 Nordic international locations are welcome, however all 30 member nations should unanimously approve a rustic’s software to hitch the alliance.
Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO stems from the Scandinavian international locations’ alleged assist for members of the Kurdistan Staff Occasion militant group (PKK), which Turkey and the U.S. consider a terrorist group.
The PKK, which desires to determine an ethnic homeland for the Kurds, has been at conflict with Turkey since 1984.
Sweden and Finland additionally halted arms gross sales to Turkey in 2019 after the nation launched an incursion into northern Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Friday that he’s assured Turkey will be capable to work out its variations with Sweden and Finland.
“The USA totally helps Finland and Sweden becoming a member of the Alliance, and I proceed to be assured that each international locations will quickly be NATO Allies,” Blinken stated at a press convention alongside Finnish International Minister Pekka Haavisto.
“Finland and Sweden are talking on to and with Turkey, and dealing by way of among the issues that Turkey has raised and discovering methods to deal with them.”
The method for becoming a member of NATO often takes eight months to a 12 months, however the alliance has indicated it desires to expedite the approval amid Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia views Finland’s entry into NATO as a “menace,” although Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov later downplayed the transfer as making “no massive distinction.”
Reuters contributed to this report.