Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday voiced his opposition to admitting Finland and Sweden into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Erdogan explained he did not want the same mistake made with the accession of Greece to be repeated, with which his country is at odds over an unresolved Cyprus question. This time around the Kurdish issue still lingers.
Scandinavian countries give hospitality to terrorist organizations, Erdogan argued, directly citing the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (outlawed in Turkey) which allegedly receives arms from the intended NATO applicants, who require the unanimous approval of all members to be admitted into the organization.
Sweden currently has six sitting Kurdish members of parliament, representing the Liberal, Sweden Democrats, Social Democrats and Left Party. Turkey joined NATO in 1952 and has the second-largest military in the 30-member alliance after the United States.
The US administration is already working to clarify Turkey's opposition, said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on her last day on the job.
Following Erdogan's statements, US President Joseph Biden called Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to reiterate his support for NATO's open-door policy and the right of Finland and Sweden to decide their own future.
The United Kingdom, Spain, Norway, and Italy have already expressed their intention to welcome the potential new members of the alliance.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the process needed to be taken “step by step.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said she was confident her country’s membership would be worked out in the end.
“If were to decide to do take that alternative (joining NATO) I think we would get very, very strong support from large and important countries who are members with whom Turkey has an interest in having good relations,” Linde pointed out.
While Turkey has supported Ukraine by sending weapons, it has so far refused to join its NATO allies in sanctioning Russia. However, analysts believe Turkey’s interests might be damaged in the long run because from Europe's standpoint everything is NATO versus Russia. From that angle, Turkey’s decision would be tantamount to helping Russia.
Finland's intention to join NATO would open another military front for Vladimir Putin's Government. In the meantime, Russian utility Inter RAO will stop exporting electricity to Finland as of May 14, due to difficulties in receiving payments.
“We are forced to suspend the electricity import starting from May 14,” said RAO Nordic, a Finland-based subsidiary of Russia’s Inter RAO, adding that it “is not able to make payments for the imported electricity from Russia.”
Finnish sources have said the electricity imported from Russia accounted for only 10% of the country's consumption and that imports from Sweden could make up for the reduced supply.