Ankara (Caasimada Online) – Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, has hinted at a potential roadblock in Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, tying the prospect to managing anti-Turkey protests in Stockholm.
Erdogan relayed this message to reporters on Tuesday during a return flight from Azerbaijan.
Erdogan emphasized that Turkey’s approach towards Sweden’s NATO bid will be governed by how “terrorist” protests in Stockholm are addressed.
This firm stance is expected to resonate in the discussions with Swedish officials set to take place in Ankara on Wednesday.
In recent times, Turkish-Swedish tensions were exacerbated by a protest in Stockholm last month.
The demonstration, which expressed anti-Turkey and anti-NATO sentiments, drew particular ire when the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) flag, a militant group outlawed in Turkey and the European Union, was projected onto the Swedish Parliament building.
Addressing Ankara’s security concerns
Sweden claims to have been abiding by an agreement made with Turkey in Madrid, specifically targeted at assuaging Ankara’s security worries. These included the implementation of a new anti-terrorism law in Sweden.
Stockholm insists it is adhering to both national and international laws regarding extraditions.
However, Erdogan’s viewpoint remains critical, as he insists this isn’t simply a matter of amending laws or constitutional changes.
He argued for a more active role from the Swedish police in preventing such protests.
A pivotal alliance
Turkey and Hungary have been vocal dissenters against Sweden’s ascension to NATO membership.
This resistance comes despite Turkey ratifying Finland’s application for NATO membership in March.
The core of Turkey’s objection against Sweden’s bid lies in accusations that Stockholm provides refuge to members of Kurdish militant groups, viewed as terrorists by Ankara.
Erdogan has also shared his concerns with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, insisting that Sweden must curb such protests to gain Turkey’s approval for its NATO membership bid.
On the other side, after meeting with Erdogan, Stoltenberg optimistically expressed that a deal concerning Sweden’s NATO membership could be finalized before the forthcoming NATO summit in Vilnius next month.
With Sweden’s bid for NATO membership hanging in the balance, the coming weeks will indeed unfold intense diplomatic negotiations.
Erdogan’s hard stance on the issue may dictate these discussions’ direction, ultimately shaping Sweden’s NATO destiny.