ISTANBUL (AP) – The President of Turkey stressed the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the context of his country’s objections to the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO and said that both countries would pose risks to Turkey’s security.
The group, known as the PKK, is leading a 38-year uprising against Turkey that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. The United States and the European Union, including Sweden and Finland, have declared it terrorist.
However, the West’s attitude towards the Syrian wing of the PKK, the People’s Defense Forces, or YPG, has caused irritation between Ankara and other NATO members. The YPG forms the basis of forces involved in the fight against the Islamic State-led group.
“Turkey claims that the adoption of Sweden and Finland carries risks for its own security and the future of the organization,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote in an article published Monday in The Economist.
Speaking about the central principle of NATO’s mutual defense policy, he added: “We have every right to expect those countries that expect NATO’s second largest army to defend itself under Article 5 to prevent recruitment, fundraising and advocacy. PKK ».
All NATO members must approve the applications of the two northern countries to join the alliance, which were caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey has said it will not allow them to join unless action is taken, but NATO leaders see the NATO summit in Spain in late June as a chance for historic expansion.
Erdogan reiterated calls for Finland and Sweden to extradite people whom Ankara suspects of terrorist activities and to support “NATO members’ anti-terrorist operations”.
He also said the arms embargo was “incompatible with the spirit of military partnership”.
Sweden and Finland were among the countries that imposed restrictions on Turkey’s exports after its invasion of northeastern Syria in 2019 in order to repel the YPG. In recent days, Erdogan has promised further cross-border operations against the group.
The president outlined Turkey’s role in “perhaps the greatest military alliance in history” since joining in 1952 and called on other NATO members to persuade Sweden and Finland to change their position.
“The position of Sweden and Finland on national security and the views of other countries with which they would like to be allies will determine the extent to which Turkey would like to be allies with these states,” he added.