President Erdogan wants Sweden and Finland to crack down on Kurds before backing their NATO bid.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Sweden of arming Kurdish militias, whom Turkey considers terrorists. Turkish media reports say Swedish weapons have been used against Turkish troops and that Ankara is seeking a major crackdown on the Kurds in Stockholm before joining the NATO alliance.
Speaking at a youth event on Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey was “We have told our relevant friends that we would say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO.” According to a commentary translated by the Associated Press, Erdogan singled out Sweden. “The epicenter of terrorism, the abode of terror,” And it accuses the Kurds of providing arms and money, which Turkey has been fighting in a low-intensity armed conflict since the 1980s.
Erdogan’s ruling party spokesman Om Selik on Thursday claimed that Ankara had evidence that Swedish weapons had fallen into the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish forces seized at least 11 Swedish-made AT4 anti-tank rockets during four raids in southern Turkey and four in northern Iraq between 2018 and 2021, according to a report published Thursday by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency. Used by more than 30 military forces worldwide , The AT4 is one of the world’s most common shoulder-powered anti-armament weapons.
Turkish troops often conduct cross-border operations against the PKK in Iraq and its Syrian branch YPG in Syria.
Celik also warned the United States and France “Giving my country’s citizens to the killer gang,” And called on NATO members “Stop their support for terrorist groups.” The U.S. military has been fighting alongside Kurds during operations against Islamic State in Syria.
Sweden denies handing over arms to PKK, and Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde said on Friday “Rumor.” Linde says Sweden, including the EU, considers PKK “A terrorist organization.”
Turkey has accused Sweden and Finland of refusing to extradite some PKK-linked individuals considered by Ankara to be terrorists, as well as some members of the FETO, a group supporting the opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Ankara has called for the extradition of the suspects, saying it would support the Nordic countries’ bid for NATO membership, and that both countries had lifted arms embargoes on Turkey.
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Also, Ankara wants to re-enter the F-35 jet fighter program, from which it was expelled in 2019 due to the purchase of S-400 aircraft defense system from Russia.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Thursday that he expects 30 members of the alliance “Quick decision” On recognizing Sweden and Finland.
“We are addressing the concerns raised by Turkey, because when an important ally (such as Turkey) raises security concerns, the only way to address them is to sit back and find common ground.” Stoltenberg told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark.