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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with the leaders of Sweden and Finland on Saturday, urging Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to take “concrete and serious steps” to address Turkey’s concerns about terrorist organizations, as the three countries work to reach an agreement to win Turkey’s support for approving Finland and Sweden’s NATO applications.
Erdogan told Andersson on a phone call that Sweden should end its financial, political and weapons support to groups Turkey considers to be terrorist organizations, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
Erdogan also said Sweden’s restrictions on Turkey’s defense industry following the 2019 invasion of Syria should be lifted.
Andersson said in a tweet following the call Sweden looks forward to “strengthening our bilateral relations, including on peace, security, and the fight against terrorism.”
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said he also spoke with Erdogan on an “open and direct phone call” Saturday, stressing Finland condemns terrorism in all forms.
Niinisto said he told Erdogan that Finland and Turkey’s relationship will grow stronger as they commit to each other’s security, adding “close dialogue” will continue.
Finland and Sweden submitted their official applications to join NATO Wednesday after conducting security reviews following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Erdogan announced his opposition to their membership last week due to their alleged support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group Turkey considers to be a terrorist organization. Finland and Sweden have provided support, along with other Western countries, to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, another group Turkey designates as terrorists. Erdogan made his most definitive statement against the two countries Thursday when he said Turkey has told its allies “we will say no” to Finland and Sweden’s bids. Turkey can single-handedly keep Finland and Sweden out of the alliance, as all 30 NATO members must unanimously approve new countries. The three nations have been holding talks for the past few days to attempt to reach an agreement.
Turkish officials have sought to clarify Erdogan’s comments over the past week. Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said last week Turkey isn’t attempting to block Finland and Sweden’s bids entirely, but wants to ensure that the national security of all NATO members is taken into consideration. A Turkish official also told the Financial Times on Wednesday that Turkey isn’t “saying they can’t be NATO members,” adding “the sooner we can reach an agreement, the sooner the membership discussions can start.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday he is confident the three countries will reach an agreement, and that “when an important ally [like]
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