ANKARA, May 19./TASS/. Turkey is determined on the issue of Finland and Sweden's possible accession to NATO due to their links to organizations recognized by Ankara as terrorist, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday at a meeting with Turkish youth in Ankara.
"At the moment we have the authority, since NATO's [charter] requires the [consent] of the entire alliance. And if any country says no, they cannot admit anyone to NATO. At the moment, we are determined on these two countries. Especially Sweden, they are a center of terrorism, a hotbed of terrorism," the Turkish president said.
On Wednesday, the Finnish and Swedish ambassadors to NATO, Klaus Korhonen and Axel Vernhoff, handed NATO membership applications to the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Speaking at a CSTO summit on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow would respond to the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to the territory of the two countries. However, NATO’s expansion to Finland and Sweden does not pose a direct threat to Russia, since Moscow has no problems with those states, he added.
On Wednesday, Erdogan stated that Ankara would not support the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO, until they determine their position regarding terrorist organizations, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in particular. The Turkish leader made a similar statement on May 16, noting that he opposed the admission of these countries because of their refusal to extradite individuals involved in the PKK activities. Erdogan advised representatives of these two countries not to bother visiting Ankara to try to persuade it to support them. On Wednesday, he reiterated these words.