May 13, 2022 13:40 GMT
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Turkish President Recep Erdogan has said today that Turkey opposes the NATO membership plans of Finland and Sweden.
- Reuters quotes Erdogan: '...Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organisations.'
- It is understood that Turkey's objection is the alleged support of Kurdish militant groups the PKK and YPG, designated as terrorist organisations by Ankara.
- Erdogan continued: 'They [terrorists] are even members of the parliament in some countries. It is not possible for us to be in favour.'
- The Nordic NATO applications are expected imminently and have been welcomed by the US, the UK, who have both provided interim security assurances. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin have promised a 'smooth and swift' accession process.
- The NATO constitution reads: 'The Treaty states that NATO membership is open to any “European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”. It states that any decision on enlargement must be made “by unanimous agreement”.
- If Turkey refuses to ratify accession it could critically damage Nordic aspirations, although Erdogan may be using the veto power to extract concessions from the US. In particular relief from US sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of Russian missile defence systems.