Turkey is not directly trying to bring down Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the US-led NATO alliance, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top adviser Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an exclusive interview on Saturday. Still, Ankara’s concerns about organizations as it considers itself “terrorist” those 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 “as a boarding house for terrorist organizations.” To join the Alliance, a potential member must have the support of all NATO member countries.
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 question primarily concerns Sweden, the official continued.
“What needs to be done is clear: they must stop allowing PKK stores, activities, organizations, individuals and other types of presence to … exist in these countries.” in Kalin. “Of course we want a discussion, a negotiation with [our] Swedish equivalents. “
The PKK has been an enemy of Turkish authorities for decades already, with the group fighting low-intensity insurgency in Kurdish-populated areas in the southeastern part of the country. Ankara also considers Kurdish-led militias in neighboring Iraq and Syria, including the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as affiliates of the PKK and treats them as “terrorists” also. Turkey has repeatedly staged invasions in these neighboring countries to fight Kurdish militants in recent years.