Erdogan suggests only Finland will be accepted to NATO without Sweden

Zelensky meets with Erdogan and UN chief Antonio Guterres

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During a televised meeting with young voters, President Erdogan suggested that Turkey will only welcome one Nordic country into NATO. The comments come only days after Turkey held suspected NATO accession talks with Finland and Sweden.


Both Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last year in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ending decades of military non-alignment.

The application must be approved by all NATO members, and Turkey and Hungry remain the only countries to have failed to ratify the two bids by votes in parliament.

However, it is expected that Hungry will approve both applications by February, but Turkey has been more reluctant.

Turkey has criticised Sweden and called on the country to distance itself from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is been declared a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

President Erdogan has complained about Sweden’s refusal to extradite suspects who may be linked to Kurdish militant groups as well as other critics of the Turkish Goverment.

Erdogan said: “If you absolutely want to join NATO, you will return these terrorists to us.”

During a speech on Sunday, President Erdogan suggested Turkey may now “give a different response concerning Finland” and added that “Sweden will be shocked”.

He said: “We gave Sweden a list of 120 persons and told them to extradite those terrorists in their country.

“If you don’t extradite them, then sorry about that.”

Turkey held suspended NATO talks with both Finland and Sweden after a series of controversial protests in Stockholm, in which a copy of the Qur’an was burned.

Turkey’s Foreign Affairs called the burning a “vile act” and in a statement, they said: “Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of ‘freedom of expression is completely unacceptable.”

Swedish officials condemned the burning but have defended Sweden’s free speech laws.

Another protest saw a Kurdish supporting group hang an effigy of President Erdogan from a lamppost near Stockholm City Hall, and Turkey has heavily criticised Sweden for not pressing charges for the incident.

However, Sweden has approved a constitutional amendment which will allow the Goverment to create stricter anti-terror laws which Turkey are demanding.

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Both Finland and Sweden have also lifted their bans on selling military equipment to Turkey, which was first implemented in 2019 following Turkey’s intervention in Syria.

However, the recent disagreements between Sweden and Turkey have led to Finland suggesting they may seek NATO membership without Sweden.

Last Thursday, Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s Foreign Minister, said: “We have to assess the situation, whether something has happened that in the longer term would prevent Sweden from going ahead.”

Mr Haavistro also stressed that joining NATO alongside Swden was the “first option”.

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