Ankara is not ‘closing the door’ on countries, but concerns about ‘terrorism’ must be addressed, says Turkish presidential aide
Turkey is not seeking outright rejection of Sweden and Finland’s membership of the US-led NATO, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top adviser Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters on Saturday in a statement. exclusive interview. Nevertheless, Ankara’s concerns about the organizations it deems “terrorist” that operate in those countries need to be addressed, the official said.
“We are not closing the door. But we are essentially raising this issue as a national security issue for Turkey,” Kalin clarified.
The official explained in more detail the position expressed by Erdogan on Friday, when the president said that Ankara could not support the offers of Finland and Sweden, which are “as guesthouses for terrorist organizations.” To enter the alliance, a potential member must obtain the support of all NATO member countries.
Kalin explained that Ankara is particularly concerned about the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), recognized as a terrorist organization in Turkey, as well as in the EU and the United States. The problem mainly concerns Sweden, the official continued.
“What needs to be done is clear: they must stop allowing PKK media, activities, organizations, individuals and other types of presence to exist in these countries,” he added. Kalin said. “Of course we want to have a discussion, a negotiation with [our] Swedish counterparts.
Joining NATO is always a process. We’ll see how things go. But this is the first point that we want to bring to the attention of all the allies, as well as to the Swedish authorities.
The PKK has been an enemy of Turkish authorities for decades already, with the group waging a low-intensity insurgency in Kurdish-populated areas in the southeast of the country. Ankara also views Kurdish-led militias in neighboring Iraq and Syria, including the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as offshoots of the PKK and treats them as “The Terrorists” as well. Turkey has repeatedly staged incursions into these neighboring countries to fight Kurdish militants in recent years.