Turkey will not approve Sweden’s NATO membership if the country does not extradite “terrorists” upon Turkish request, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
“Supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorist organisations and asking us for support for NATO membership is, to say the least, inconsistent. We asked Sweden to return 30 terrorists, but they refused to do so,” Erdogan added on Wednesday while addressing his party’s lawmakers.
“We cannot say yes to making this security organisation deprived of security,” the President said.
Erdogan also told Sweden and Finland delegations not to bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bids, Xinhua news agency reported.
The bloc’s expansion can be “meaningful” if it respects the member states’ sensitivities, the Turkish President noted, urging other NATO members to “respect” Turkey’s concerns about Finland and Sweden’s intention to join the alliance.
Finland and Sweden on Wednesday formally submitted their membership applications to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Turkey has accused both nations of supporting “terrorist organisations,” referring to the PKK and YPG.
Helsinki and Stockholm have reportedly rejected or dismissed Ankara’s request for the extradition of “terrorists”.