Ankara, November 7, 2023,
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Stockholm has not taken sufficient steps to deal with Kurdish militants, raising an earlier objection to Sweden’s request to join NATO after the Swedish bid had seemed to be making progress.
Turkey will “try to facilitate the work” on ratifying Sweden’s accession to NATO “so long as our counterparts approach us positively,” Erdoğan told reporters on Friday, Reuters reported.
His comments come after the Turkish government submitted Sweden’s NATO accession bid to the country’s parliament for ratification last month, ending a months-long guessing game over whether Ankara intended to postpone its approval process further.
Erdoğan has demanded that Stockholm both crack down on what he called Kurdish “terrorists” operating in Sweden and relax restrictions on Swedish arms sales to Turkey before he will greenlight Swedish accession to the defense alliance.
On a return flight from Kazakhstan, Erdoğan welcomed that Stockholm had taken action regarding protests organized by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in Sweden, and also concerning arms embargoes on Turkey, but not on the activities of the PKK in Sweden.
Erdoğan also said priority in the Turkish parliament will now be given to the government’s 2024 state budget.
Both Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in May 2022, breaking a long-standing tradition of nonalignment after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland has since joined the alliance, while Sweden’s bid has been held up in Turkey as well as in Hungary.