Türkİye, Politics, World

Sweden must do its part on terrorism for NATO bid: Turkish president

Türkiye cannot readily approve Sweden's NATO membership at Vilnius summit next month unless it fulfills duty under memorandum, says Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Diyar Guldogan  | 14.06.2023 - Update : 15.06.2023
Sweden must do its part on terrorism for NATO bid: Turkish president


If Türkiye is expected to respond to Stockholm's expectations of accession to NATO, Sweden must also do its part on the terrorist group PKK ahead of next month’s NATO summit, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"The NATO summit will be held in Vilnius. Hopefully, unless something extraordinary happens, I will attend," Erdogan told reporters Tuesday, ahead of a meeting of a joint mechanism of Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland set for Wednesday in the Turkish capital Ankara.

"The expectations of Sweden do not mean that we will comply with these expectations. In order for us to comply with these expectations, first of all, Sweden must do its part,” he said on the presidential plane, returning from foreign visits.

In a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Istanbul in early June, he related, he had told the alliance chief, “If you expect us to respond to Sweden's expectations, first of all, Sweden must erase what this terrorist organization has done. While we were expressing these to Stoltenberg, at that time, unfortunately, terrorists were demonstrating in the streets again in Sweden,” referring to the PKK, which has taken some 40,000 lives in its decades-long terror campaign in Türkiye.

Erdogan also called on Stockholm to use Swedish police to prevent PKK terrorists from operating in the country.

"What do the police do? The job of the police force is to stop them. ... There are already rights given to the police force in laws and constitutions. Use these rights. (But maybe) you will not use these rights, then tell us: 'Come and accept Sweden into NATO.'

"Where is NATO's counter-terrorism leg? NATO has to deal with this once. After having not dealt with this, we cannot treat them (Sweden) as the blue-eyed boy in Vilnius," Erdogan said.

He added that Akif Cagatay Kilic, his chief adviser, on Wednesday will chair a meeting where he will stress: "This is the opinion of our president, definitely don’t expect anything different in Vilnius."

The fourth meeting on a permanent joint mechanism between Türkiye, Finland, Sweden, and NATO started in the Turkish capital Ankara on Wednesday.

The meeting comes before the NATO leaders’ summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11-12.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership soon after Russia launched a war in Ukraine in February 2022.

Although Türkiye approved Finland's membership to NATO, it is waiting for Sweden to abide by a trilateral memorandum signed last June in Madrid to address Ankara's security concerns on terrorism.

Seeking to win Türkiye’s greenlight for membership, a new Swedish anti-terror law, which came into effect this month, allows authorities to prosecute individuals who support terror groups.

Several countries have said they hope Türkiye will approve Sweden's bid ahead of the NATO summit next month.

Armenian premier's visit to Ankara 'important step'

Turning to his just-concluded trip to Azerbaijan, Erdogan said he discussed with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev the normalization process with Armenia.

"The progress of the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia will contribute significantly to the normalization of our relations with Armenia. After all the suffering, we see that the door of peace has been opened in our region," Erdogan said.

He also thanked Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for his visit to Ankara to attend Erdogan's June 3 inauguration ceremony.

"Especially Pashinyan accepting our invitation was an important step. In other words, at this point Pashinyan accepted our invitation by overcoming many obstacles, including opposition.

"We were only able to have a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Pashinyan at this ceremony. In this quick meeting, we expressed our gratitude for his response to this invitation," Erdogan said.

About the planned Zangezur corridor, Erdogan said it is an issue with Iran, not with Armenia, adding that Tehran's attitude upsets both Azerbaijan and Türkiye.

"In fact, it should upset them too. Also, the fees charged per wagon here are unfortunately very, very high. I hope we will overcome this problem soon.

"If they approached this positively, today Türkiye, Azerbaijan, and Iran would be integrated with each other, both by road and by rail, and perhaps a Beijing-London line would be opened," he added.

The Zangezur region was originally part of Azerbaijan, though the Soviets gave it to Armenia in the 1920s, leaving Azerbaijan deprived of a direct overland route to its exclave of Nakhchivan.

Following its 44-day war with Armenia in fall 2020, Azerbaijan has focused on planned connections including motorways and a 43-kilometer (26.7-mile) railway through the corridor.

The corridor would be near or adjacent to Armenia’s border with Iran, reportedly making Tehran concerned the project might cut off its frontier with Yerevan.

Erdogan calls on Greece to stop armament in Aegean Sea

Following his May 28 elections victory in Türkiye, Erdogan said former Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also conveyed his best wishes.

Greece since May 24 has been governed by an election period caretaker prime minister, but Mitsotakis – who stepped down on that date – is favored to return to the post after June 25 elections.

Erdogan said he will not hesitate to meet with Mitsotakis during NATO summit in Vilnius next month, adding that Türkiye seeks to reduce hostilities rather than increase them.

"Of course there is something here. We know what we're going to say. … 'Mr. Prime Minister, stop this armament now. So, where are you going with this armament? America is constantly giving you a lot of guns. Do you get it because it's free, or do you buy it because it (the US) does not want money?'

"We'll probably talk about them. Also know that we exist to have fewer enemies, not more," Erdogan said.

Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent years, including arming islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarized under treaty obligations, saying such moves frustrate its good faith efforts towards peace.

Erdogan has repeatedly warned Greece about the militarization of the Aegean islands, in violation of longstanding international treaties, saying, "We may come suddenly one night" without giving a timeframe.

When asked about possible talks on Cyprus, Erdogan said the new Greek Cypriot government is in "more peaceful atmosphere," but that they need to recognize Northern Cyprus' sovereign rights.

"If they maintain this peaceful atmosphere and say 'yes' to protecting the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in sovereign equality without being provoked by some provocations, especially by the EU, we will say 'why not.'

"But they should recognize the sovereign equality rights of Northern Cyprus, this (talks) will not happen if they do not," he said.

About a question on his foreign policy focus after the reelection, Erdogan said Türkiye is at the same distance both to the East and the West.

"Our concern is to be together with all countries in the world with the same understanding, especially in this century," he added.


Erdogan said his newly appointed Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek will take steps swiftly with the Central Bank.

"We declared our determination to reduce inflation to single digits," he added.

After unveiling the new Cabinet, Erdogan appointed Hafize Gaye Erkan as the new Central Bank governor.

Erdogan also promised to strengthen the financial sector.

"Our banking sector is already strong. It's all about making the financial management strong, let's further reduce the dropping inflation," he added.

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