Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Sweden of arming Kurdish militias, which Turkey considers terrorists. Reports in the Turkish media indicate that Swedish weapons have been used against Turkish troops and that Ankara is seeking a major crackdown on the Kurds from Stockholm before joining the NATO alliance.
When Erdogan spoke at a youth event on Thursday, Turkey stated that Turkey had “told our relevant friends that we would say no to Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO.” According to comments translated by the Associated Press, Erdogan pointed out Sweden as “a focus on terror, home to terror,” and accused it of providing weapons and money to the Kurds, against whom Turkey has been fighting a low-intensity armed conflict since the 1980s.
Omer Celik, spokesman for Erdogan’s ruling party, claimed on Thursday that Ankara has evidence that Swedish weapons have appeared in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to a Report published earlier on Thursday by Turkish news agency Anadolu, Turkish forces seized Swedish-made AT4 anti-tank missiles during at least 11 raids in southern Turkey and four in northern Iraq between 2018 and 2021. AT4 is used by more than 30 military personnel worldwide. one of the world’s most common axle – fired anti – tank weapons.
Turkish troops often carry out cross-border operations against the PKK in Iraq and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, in Syria.
Celik also warned the United States and France “give to the group that kills the citizens of my country,” and urged NATO members to: “hijacked their support for terrorist groups.” The US military fought alongside the Kurds during the campaign against the Islamic State in Syria.
Sweden denies arming the PKK, and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Friday that accusations of Swedish support for the group amounted to “disinformation.” Linde stated that Sweden, together with the EU, believes the PKK “a terrorist organization”.
Turkey accuses Sweden and Finland of refusing to extradite a number of PKK-linked people who are considered terrorists by Ankara, as well as a number of people from FETO, a group that supports the opposition priest Fethullah Gulen.
Ankara has demanded the extradition of these suspects before supporting the Nordic nations’ offer of NATO membership, and has reportedly demanded that both countries lift arms export restrictions to Turkey.
READ MORE: Turkey sets conditions for a complete reversal of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO bid – media
In addition, Ankara reportedly wants to re-enter the F-35 jet fighter program, from which it was excluded in 2019 due to the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday that he expects the 30 members of the alliance to do so “come to a quick decision” about bringing in Sweden and Finland.
“We address the concerns that Turkey has expressed, because when an important ally (like) Turkey raises security issues, raises issues, then of course the only way to deal with it is to sit down and find a common ground.” Stoltenberg told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark.