Ankara, July 10 (EFE).- Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday said his country could approve Sweden’s NATO membership bid if European nations let Turkey join the European Union.
Turkey has held back Sweden’s NATO membership, claiming that the Scandinavian country was not doing enough to counter activities on its territory by the Kurdish guerrilla PKK, considered a terrorist group by the EU, the US, and Turkey.
“Come and open the way for Turkey’s membership in the European Union,” Erdogan said before departing Ankara for the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius to attend the summit of the transatlantic military bloc on Tuesday and Wednesday. “When you pave the way for Turkey, we’ll pave the way for Sweden as we did for Finland.”
He said he would repeat the statement in his meetings with European leaders on the sidelines of the NATO summit.
Erdogan said Turkey had been waiting to join the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all NATO member countries were now EU members. “I am making this call to these countries that have kept Turkey waiting at the gates of the European Union for more than 50 years.”
Turkey has been negotiating with the EU for its membership in the bloc, even as the talks have been suspended for several years.
However, Erdogan reiterated that Sweden’s NATO membership was contingent on fulfilling promises outlined in a tripartite agreement signed last year in Madrid during a NATO summit.
“As Türkiye, we are tired of repeating that we need to fight terrorist organizations and their extensions indiscriminately.”
Erdogan criticized the United States for linking Sweden’s NATO bid with Turkey’s F-35 purchase from Washington.
“There was a payment we made for the F-35s. It saddens me that this is now related to Sweden,” said the Turkish president.
He said he would meet with US President Joe Biden and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
“We want the promises to be fulfilled. Turkey is fulfilling its part as the largest contributor to NATO operations,” he said. “The final decision lies with p. It is not possible to take a step here unless the Turkish parliament makes this decision (regarding Sweden’s accession to NATO).” EFE