ANKARA (Reuters) – Progress on Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bids ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid this month depends on their response to Turkey’s demands, a spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Stockholm and Helsinki applied to join the Western defence alliance last month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but they have faced opposition from Turkey, which has accused them of supporting and harbouring Kurdish militants and other groups it deems terrorists.
While Sweden and Finland have said talks with Turkey would continue to resolve the dispute, Erdogan said on Wednesday that Ankara had not received any proposals on its demands, which include stopping support for groups Turkey considers terrorists, extraditing suspects sought by Turkey, and lifting arms embargoes on Ankara.
Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman and chief foreign policy adviser, told Spain’s El Pais daily that how Finland and Sweden respond to Turkey’s demands would determine whether progress can be made ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid on June 29-30.
“It depends on what Sweden and Finland do,” he said. “When we see progress on our requests, then the process will advance. NATO is not a tourism, nor economic alliance; it is a security alliance, which means that it must provide security to all its members equally and fairly.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Washington this week that he would convene senior officials from Finland, Sweden and Turkey in Brussels in coming days to discuss the issue.
A bid to join NATO requires backing from each of its 30 members. Turkey, which has been a NATO ally for over 70 years, has said it will not change its position unless the Nordic countries take “concrete steps” about its concerns.
(Reporting by Orhan Coskun and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Nick Macfie)