Turkey is not trying to directly shoot down Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the US-led NATO bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top adviser Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters on Saturday. Still, Ankara’s concerns about organizations it considers “terrorists” operating in these countries need to be addressed, the official said.
“We are not closing the door. But we are basically addressing this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey,” Kalin clarified.
The official further developed the position expressed by Erdogan on Friday, when the president said that Ankara could not support the bid of Finland and Sweden, which is “a guest house for terrorist organizations”. To join the organization, potential new employees must receive support from all existing members.
Kalin explained that Ankara is particularly concerned about the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), recognized as a terrorist organization in Turkey, as well as in the EU and the US. The issue primarily concerns Sweden, the official clarified.
“What needs to be done is clear: they need to stop allowing PKK stores, activities, organizations, individuals and other types of presence to … exist in these countries,” Kalin said. “Of course we want a discussion, a negotiation with [our] Swedish equivalents. “
The PKK has been a sworn enemy of Ankara for decades, with the group fighting low-intensity insurgency in Kurdish-populated areas in the southeastern part of the country. The Turkish authorities also regard Kurdish-led militias in neighboring Iraq and Syria, including the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as offshoots of the PKK and also treat them as “terrorists”.
Turkey has repeatedly staged invasions in these neighboring countries to fight Kurdish militants in recent years.