No concrete response from Sweden, Finland on NATO bids: Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his criticism of Sweden and Finland’s support for terrorists as he stated that neither of the two countries has responded to Turkey’s demands, adding that NATO is a security bloc, not an alliance to provide support to terrorist groups.

Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting in Parliament on Wednesday, Erdoğan said countries like Sweden and Finland try to manipulate perceptions by changing the spelling of the PKK and rebranding the terrorists as the PYD/YPG, underlining that these countries are only fooling themselves.

He also criticized Sweden for airing an interview with Salih Muslim, the leader of a Syrian offshoot of the PKK, on ​​the day Swedish and Finnish delegations came to Ankara to discuss their NATO membership.

“How can Turkey approve of Swedish, and Finnish NATO bids, given that terror affiliates freely roam, hold rallies there?” the president said, adding that both countries have yet to provide a concrete response to Turkey’s expectations.

Turkey echoed concerns about Swedish and Finnish countries’ support for terrorist groups during the meeting between Turkish officials last week.

Following a closed-door consultative meeting last week that lasted nearly five hours, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın told a news conference that Turkey conveyed its expectations on this matter to the delegations from Sweden and Finland while noting that the PKK, the YPG and the PYD are all the same terrorist group.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO – a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

But Turkey, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the Baltic states for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

Turkish security forces discovered Swedish anti-tank weapons while carrying out a raid on a cave used by the PKK terrorists in northern Iraq within the scope of Operation Claw-Lock, a report said Wednesday, as Swedish officials denied providing assistance to the terrorists, which has become a stumbling block for the country’s NATO membership.

They discovered AT-4 anti-tank weapons built by Sweden’s Saab Bofors Dynamics Ammunition during the raids, TRT Haber reported.

Listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union – of which Sweden and Finland are members – the PKK has waged an insurgency against Turkey since 1984.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.

The president noted that Turkey has a principled stance against all terrorists and will continue to fight them.

He said that Turkey plans to clear Tal Rifaat and Manbij of YPG/PKK terrorists, followed by other areas in northern Syria.

Ankara has conducted three successful counterterrorism operations into northern Syria since 2016, clearing hundreds of kilometers of land and pushing some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) deep into the country, in operations targeting mainly the US-backed YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists.

Two main goals are Tal Rifaat, a town where thousands of Arabs have been displaced and Ain al-Arab, also known as Kobani, whose capture would allow Turkey to link the towns of Jarablus and Tal Abyad it now controls, a Syrian opposition military officer said.

Turkey last week dismantled parts of a concrete wall near Ain al-Arab, which Ankara had built along the 911-kilometer-long border with Syria, in a move to push forces into the border town, two rebel sources said.

A senior opposition commander in touch with the Turkish military however said it was not certain the military operation would start soon, adding it could be postponed until “further notice.”

Erdoğan also said Turkey has stopped bilateral talks with Greek officials due to their insincerity and hostility, as he urged the Greek leadership to be honest.

I have noted that Turkey has canceled the High-Level Strategic Council agreement with Greece and will not hold bilateral talks until Athens bounces back from its mistakes.

Last week, President Erdoğan said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him after the latter’s remarks and criticism of Turkey during his recent trip to the United States. Erdoğan said Mitsotakis spoke against Turkey and urged the US Congress not to allow F-16 fighter jets to be sold to Ankara.

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