(Photo credit: AP)
The spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Omer Celik, said late on 31 October that his country is “not satisfied” with the promises made by Sweden to crack down on Kurdish groups labeled as terrorists by Ankara.
Briefing reporters following a meeting of the AKP executive committee, Celik said Sweden “makes very beautiful, elegant promises at the very highest level … but [they are] not enough until they are implemented.”
“We are waiting for it to come to life,” the AKP official added.
Celik’s statements come just days before a meeting between NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.
Stoltenberg’s trip will take place just ahead of a planned visit by Sweden’s new Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, to Turkey.
Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members to have not ratified a bid by Sweden and Finland to join the US-led militaristic alliance.
“All eyes are now on Hungary and Turkey. We are waiting for these countries to ratify our applications. I think it would be important that this would happen preferably sooner than later,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Tuesday.
Back in May, the two Nordic nations broke with decades of neutrality by announcing their intention to join NATO. Ankara threatened to veto their bid, however, after accusing the two nations of harboring “terrorist groups.”
A month later, the three nations signed a trilateral memorandum in Spain, in which the two Nordic countries reportedly agreed to lift embargoes on weapon deliveries to Turkey and on “full cooperation” in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara has designated as a terrorist organization.
Ankara has asked both Stockholm and Helsinki to crack down not only on supporters of the PKK but also on its affiliates, such as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
The YPG makes up the backbone of the US-sponsored Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been trying for years to oust President Bashar al-Assad and often aids Washington in its oil looting operations in northeast Syria.
“We have full respect for the fact that every country within the alliance makes its own decisions,” the Swedish premier said at a news conference in Helsinki on Tuesday. “I had a telephone call with President Erdogan the other day. We agreed on me coming to Ankara and I will communicate the exact date when it is formally confirmed.”
In a call with Kristersson last week, Erdogan stressed that “preventing terrorist organizations from taking hostage Sweden’s NATO membership and its relations with Turkey is a common interest,” according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.