Turkish leader opposes Finland and Sweden joining NATO

HELSINKI (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that his country was “not in favor” of Finland and Sweden joining NATO, indicating that Turkey could use its membership of the Western military alliance to veto the admission of the two countries. .

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable view,” Erdogan told reporters.

The Turkish leader explained his opposition by citing the alleged support of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries for Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers terrorists.

He said he also didn’t want to repeat Turkey’s past “mistake” when it agreed to readmit Greece back into NATO’s military wing in 1980. He claimed the action helped to Greece “to adopt an attitude against Turkey by taking NATO behind it”.

Erdogan hasn’t said outright that he will block any attempt by the two Nordic nations to join, but NATO makes all its decisions by consensus, which means that each of the 30 member countries has a potential veto over who can. join.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Finland and Sweden, if they formally applied to join the world’s largest security organization, would be welcomed with open arms.

The accession procedure could take place in “a few weeks”, several NATO officials have said, although it could take member countries around 6 months to ratify the accession protocol.

Meanwhile. a Swedish government report on the altered security environment the Nordic country faces after Russia invaded Ukraine indicates that Moscow would react negatively to Sweden’s NATO membership and launch several counter-attacks. measures.

The analysis of the Swedish government’s security policy, which will serve as the basis for Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s cabinet in deciding whether or not to seek membership in the Western military alliance, was presented to Swedish lawmakers on Friday.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party, led by Andersson, is expected to reveal its decision on Sunday.

The report points out that NATO membership has a number of advantages for Sweden – above all the collective security provided by the 30-member military alliance. At the same time, he lists numerous tactics that Russia is likely to adopt in retaliation.

These would include cyberattacks and different types of hybrid attacks, violations of Swedish airspace or the territorial sea. Other aggressive behavior, including strategic signals with nuclear weapons, is also possible from Moscow, according to the report.

The report said that Russia’s war in Ukraine limits the possibilities of attacks against other countries, but that Russia still has the capacity for a limited number of hostile measures against countries like Sweden.

The report makes no recommendations as to whether or not Sweden should join NATO. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told lawmakers in the Riksdagen legislature that “an armed attack on Sweden cannot be ruled out” and underlined the security guarantee NATO membership would provide .

The president and prime minister of northern neighboring Finland said on Thursday they favored a swift application for NATO membership, paving the way for the country to formally announce its candidacy in the coming days.

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Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey.

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