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Turkiye's talks with Sweden, Finland on NATO bids did not happen 'at desired level': President

Turkish president to have separate phone calls with Russian, Ukrainian counterparts, will continue to boost paths for dialogue and diplomacy

Mehmet Tosun and Merve Aydogan   | 29.05.2022
Turkiye's talks with Sweden, Finland on NATO bids did not happen 'at desired level': President

ANKARA

Last week’s talks on Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids hosted by Turkiye at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara "did not happen at the desired level," said the Turkish president late Saturday.

Speaking to reporters on his plane following a trip to Azerbaijan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, in remarks released on Sunday: "Unfortunately, the talks held by our delegation with Finland and Sweden were not at the desired level."

Saying that Sweden and Finland have expectations from these talks, Erdogan said however that they have not taken the necessary steps on Turkiye's demands and stressed that terrorists are even now still walking the streets of Stockholm while Sweden protects them “with their own police."

"We cannot repeat the mistakes made in the past on (admitting) countries that embrace and feed such terrorists into NATO, which is a security organization," he said.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO on May 18, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24. Turkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

Turkiye last week hosted consultations with Swedish and Finnish delegations on their NATO applications in Ankara.

Adding that he will soon have separate phone calls with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts, Erdogan said Turkiye will continue to encourage the parties to maintain channels of dialogue and diplomacy to bring peace to Ukraine.

On a possible new Turkish security operation in northern Syria, near the Turkish border, the president stressed that everyone has to do their part in fighting terrorism.

"If America does not fulfill its duty in the fight against terrorism, what will we do? We'll fend for ourselves. Counter-terrorism cannot be done by seeking permission from elsewhere," he added.

Turkiye borders Syria and Iraq to its south and has worked to eliminate existing terrorist bases and prevent new ones there that would threaten its national security and the safety of locals across its borders.

Turkiye has long objected to the US working in northern Syria with the YPG/PKK, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, which has taken thousands of lives in Turkiye.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

Turkiye, Israel moving towards better ties

Turning to ties with Israel, Erdogan said the two countries will take steps to improve relations as the countries' energy ministers are expected to hold talks along these lines.

On ties with Greece, Erdogan once again slammed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over his comments made on Turkiye during a recent official visit to the US.

Turkiye has broken off its high-level strategic council with Greece as Mitsotakis is no longer fit to deal with, Erdogan told reporters.

While in Washington, Mitsotakis argued against the US selling Turkiye forty F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.

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