Turkey has announced it plans to vote against the addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO, according to a statement made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 16 May.
A unanimous vote is needed from all NATO member states in order to approve the addition of any new member to the western-led military alliance.
A no vote from Ankara would effectively prevent the ascension of Sweden and Finland to NATO.
Erdogan stated that his nation’s grievances with both countries is that they apply sanctions against Turkey and host terrorist organizations.
During a news conference, Erdogan said: “These countries do not have a clear unequivocal stance against terrorist organizations. Sweden is the incubation center of terrorist organizations. They bring terrorists to talk in their parliaments. We wouldn’t say ‘yes’ to them joining NATO, a security organization. They were going to come on Monday to convince us. Sorry, they don’t have to bother.”
He also stated that Ankara would not accept countries that apply sanctions on Turkey into NATO.
The organizations that Ankara labels as terrorist groups include Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP), which receive support from the two Nordic countries.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana stated that they are trying to get Turkey to overcome its issues with the two countries. The US may also pressure Turkey to alter its course.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on 16 May that he sees no real threat from Finland or Sweden if they were to become NATO member states.
However, the Russian president added that “the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly provoke our response.”
Despite being a NATO member state and supplying the Ukrainian army with Turkish-made drones, Ankara has tried to carefully balance its relationship with Moscow since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine and has made sure not to fully join the side of Russia’s adversaries.
Turkey has hosted several negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials and has publicly condemned the excessive approach by the west when it comes to boycotting Russian arts, literature, culture, and language.
However, Ankara has also been working with Israel in order to establish an alternative route for energy exports to reach Europe.
Hundreds of fighters from militant groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda have been transported to Ukraine from Syria by using Turkey as a transit point between the two countries.