Erdoğan Informs Allies: We Will Nix NATO Expansion if Sweden, Finland Do Not Extradite ‘Terrorists’
Turkey will reject Sweden and Finland’s application to join the NATO alliance, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday. “We will continue our policy in a determined way. We have told allies that we will say no to Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership,” Erdogan said in an interview with students late on Wednesday. Earlier the same day, Erdoğan said in an address to lawmakers from his Justice and Development Party that Ankara would veto Sweden’s application for NATO membership if Stockholm does not extradite “terrorists” wanted by Turkey. “Supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorist organizations and asking us for support for NATO membership is, to say the least, inconsistent. We asked Sweden to return 30 terrorists, but they refused to do so,” the Turkish president said. “We cannot say yes to making this security organization deprived of security,” he added. Erdoğan also said delegations from Sweden and Finland should not bother coming to Ankara to try to convince him to approve their NATO bids. Finland and Sweden submitted formal applications for membership in the alliance to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday. Helsinki and Stockholm have reportedly rejected or dismissed Ankara’s request for the extradition of “terrorists,” and Turkey has accused both Nordic nations of supporting “terrorist organizations,” referring to the PKK and YPG.