Turkey’s Erdogan Talks to Swedish, Finnish Leaders on NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday. (Turkish Presidency via AP)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday discussed his objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO with the two Nordic countries’ leaders, Erdogan’s office said.

He spoke to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in separate calls to address Ankara’s concerns about those it considers terrorists in their countries, the presidential communications office said in a statement.

It said Erdogan called upon Sweden to lift defensive weapons export restrictions it imposed on Turkey over Turkey’s 2019 incursion into northern Syria. Erdogan also said he expected Stockholm to take “concrete and serious steps” against the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other groups that Turkey views as terrorists.

He told Niinisto “that an understanding that ignores terrorist organizations that pose a threat to an ally within NATO is incompatible with the spirit of friendship and alliance,” the statement added.

In another call, the Turkish president also raised Turkey’s concerns with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who has said he would listen to Turkey’s concerns on the matter.

On Thursday, Niinisto and Andersson visited Washington, where they spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden about their bids to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While other NATO nation appear welcoming to have Finland and Sweden join, Turkey has raised objections to their accession, principally over the presence of alleged terrorists in their countries and the block on arms sales.

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