Countries that "embrace and feed terrorists" should not be admitted to NATO, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Last week’s talks on Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids hosted by Türkiye in the capital Ankara "did not happen at the desired level," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
Speaking to reporters following a trip to Azerbaijan on Saturday, Erdogan said "Unfortunately, the talks held by our delegation with Finland and Sweden were not at the desired level", in remarks released on Sunday.
Adding that Sweden and Finland have expectations from these talks, Erdogan however said that they have not taken the necessary steps regarding Türkiye's demands.
He stressed that terrorists are still freely walking the streets of Stockholm while Sweden protects them “with their own police".
"We cannot repeat the mistakes made in the past on (admitting) countries that embrace and feed such terrorists into NATO, which is a security organisation", he said.
Türkiye's President Erdogan:— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 29, 2022
- As long as I'm president, we won't allow countries that support terrorism into NATO
- Our talks with Sweden, Finland did not happen at desired level
- I'll keep calling both Ukrainian & Russian leaders to encourage them to dialogue & diplomacy pic.twitter.com/XkEjC0nj2p
'We will fend for ourselves'
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO on May 18, a decision spurred by Russia's offensive in Ukraine, which began on February 24.
Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticising the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups, such as the PKK and its Syrian offshoot YPG.
Türkiye last week hosted consultations with Swedish and Finnish delegations on their NATO applications in Ankara.
On a possible new Turkish security operation in northern Syria, near the Turkish border, the president stressed that everyone has to do their part in fighting terrorism.
"If America does not fulfil its duty in the fight against terrorism, what will we do? We'll fend for ourselves. Counter-terrorism cannot be done by seeking permission from elsewhere," he added.
Türkiye has long objected to the US working in northern Syria with the YPG and the PKK, which have taken thousands of lives in Türkiye.
Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its northern Syria border to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of Syrians: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.