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Turkey’s Erdogan to speak to Finland as NATO application row simmers

Published: Updated:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will speak to Finland on Saturday, while maintaining his opposition to Finnish and Swedish NATO membership bids over their history of hosting members of groups Ankara deems terrorists.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday, following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

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Erdogan said he had discussed the issue with the Dutch prime minister on Friday and would also speak to Britain on Saturday. He did not specify the people he would speak to in Finland and Britain.

“Of course we will continue all these discussions for the sake of not interrupting diplomacy,” Erdogan told reporters.

Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbor people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Western leaders have expressed confidence that Ankara’s objections will not be a roadblock for the NATO accession process of the Nordic countries without spelling out how Turkey’s position could be changed.

Erdogan on Friday criticized the West for not viewing the Syrian Kurdish YPG as a terrorist group while viewing the PKK as such. Turkey views both groups as identical.

“Currently there is a terrorist organization in many European countries, especially in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Sweden, in Finland and in France,” he said.

Erdogan has previously said that Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bids and that “terrorists” would have to be returned to Turkey before approval is given.

Read more:

Biden welcomes Finland, Sweden to join NATO, as Turkey balks

NATO chief sure Turkey’s spat over Sweden, Finland will be resolved

Turkey’s Erdogan says ‘no’ to Sweden and Finland NATO bid

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