Turkey has given Russian president, Vladimir Putin a boost by saying it wont support Finland and Sweden’s bid to join Nato accusing both countries of being a ‘hatchery’ for terrorist organisations.
Speaking on Monday night, May 16, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told delegates from Finland and Sweden not to bother visiting Ankara for planned negotiations to address Turkey’s concerns.
It is a welcome news for Putin, who has claimed any expansion of NATO could be seen as a sign of Western aggression.
Sweden and Finland have submitted their bids to join NATO, a transatlantic military alliance created to defend the west against threats by the Soviet Union. In the past both countries have been military unaligned but said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 changed their mindset and puts the country at a security risk.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday that the nation hoped its membership bid would be accepted quickly, adding: ‘We are leaving one era behind us and entering a new one.
‘Nato will strengthen Sweden, Sweden will strengthen Nato.’
The country’s application came a day after Finland said it would also join Nato, putting pressure on Russia, with which it shares an 830-mile border.
But Turkey’s opposition plunges the applications into doubt, as decisions on Nato enlargement must be approved by all 30 members.
Turkey believes Sweden and Finland harbour terrorists, including members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and followers of Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan accuses of a 2016 coup attempt.
‘Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation,’ Erdogan said Monday. ‘How can we trust them?’
Swedish authorities said representatives from Sweden and Finland said they would to travel to Turkey for talks about its objections.
However, Erdogan retorted: ‘Are they coming to convince us? Excuse me, but they should not tire themselves.’
Putin responded to Sweden and Finland’s desire to join Nato by claiming that they were not a threat to Russia.
But he warned other members against bolstering the two nations’ military capability. ‘As to enlargement, Russia has no problem with these states – none,’ he said.
‘So in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion to include these countries.
But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response.’