Turkey will suspend Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession process if they do not keep promises on counter-terrorism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
“I would like to remind you that we will freeze the process if they do not take the necessary steps to meet our terms,” Erdogan added on Monday at a press conference after a cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara, adding Sweden was “not showing a good image” for now.
“Our stance is very clear. The rest is up to them,” he said.
NATO’s 30 member states signed accession protocols for Sweden and Finland in early July, starting the process to admit the two Nordic countries into the military alliance, Xinhua news agency reported.
The next step is for the parliaments of all NATO members to ratify their accession to NATO.
Finland and Sweden’s NATO bid was initially blocked by Turkey, which accused them of “supporting” anti-Turkish terrorist groups as they rejected Ankara’s extradition requests for suspects affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gulen movement.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.
The Gulen movement is led by and named after the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen who is regarded by his followers as a spiritual leader. The Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding the 2016 failed coup in which at least 250 people were killed.
On June 28, Turkey, Sweden and Finland agreed on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) before Ankara lifted its veto ahead of the NATO Madrid summit.
In the MoU, Finland and Sweden pledged to support Turkey’s fight against terrorism, and agreed to address Turkey’s “pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly”.