ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday there was no need for Finnish and Swedish diplomatic delegations to visit Turkey if they came to convince Ankara of their NATO candidacy.
“Are they going to come and convince us? Excuse us, but you don’t need to bother,” Erdogan told a joint press conference with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune in the capital Ankara.
Neither Sweden nor Finland has a “clear and unequivocal position against terrorist organisations”, he said, adding that “NATO will then cease to be a security organisation”.
“First of all, we will not say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey to join NATO,” he said.
Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbor people affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the Gülen Movement, which the Turkish government accuses of infiltrating state bureaucracy and attempting a coup Status July 15, 2016.
The two countries have rejected Turkey’s request for the extradition of several suspects affiliated with the PKK or the Gülen movement, the Turkish Ministry of Justice announced on Monday.
Sweden and Finland have offered to work with Ankara to allay Turkey’s concerns over NATO membership, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday, adding that Ankara demands “security guarantees” from two countries as well as the lifting of defense export restrictions imposed on Turkey.
Swedish and Finnish delegations are due to visit Turkey in the coming days to discuss their intention to join NATO, the Swedish Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.
Elaborating on ties with Algeria, Erdogan said “we are giving a new impetus to our relations with this historic visit by Algeria to our country after 17 years at the presidential level”.
The last visit of an Algerian president to Turkey dates back to 2005.
As part of the visit, Tebboune and Erdogan chaired the first session of the High Level Cooperation Council between the two countries.