Erdoğan: Swedish, Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Turkey for NATO

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Ankara for their NATO applications, arguing that the two countries “impose sanctions on Turkey.”

Reuters - Duvar English

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on May 16 that Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bid.

Sweden's government has formally decided to apply for NATO membership, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on May 16, a day after Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed that Helsinki will also apply for membership.

Turkey surprised its NATO allies last week by saying it would not view their applications positively, mainly citing their history of hosting members of groups Ankara deems terrorists.

In a news conference on May 16, Erdoğan repeated that Turkey would not approve their bids to join NATO, calling Sweden a "hatchery" for terrorist organisations, and adding it had terrorists in its parliament.

"Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation," Erdoğan said. "How can we trust them?"

The Swedish foreign office said earlier on May 16 that senior representatives of Sweden and Finland plan to travel to Turkey for talks to address Ankara's objections.

"They are coming to Turkey on Monday. Are they coming to convince us? Excuse me but they should not tire themselves," Erdoğan said about the planned visit.

Erdoğan said NATO would become "a place where representatives of terrorist organisations are concentrated" if the two countries join.

Erdoğan also said "We would not say yes to those who impose sanctions on Turkey joining NATO which is a security organization."

Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbor people it says are linked to groups it deems terrorists, namely the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said on Monday that Sweden and Finland had not granted approval for the repatriation of 33 people that Turkey requested.

NATO and the United States said they were confident Turkey would not hold up membership of Finland and Sweden.

Diplomats said Erdoğan would be under pressure to yield as Finland and Sweden would greatly strengthen NATO in the Baltic Sea.