‘Turkey should even consider leaving NATO,’ far-right leader says on Nordic nations’ bids

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Leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli, an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said that even leaving NATO should be considered as an option by Ankara “if the situation [regarding Finland and Sweden’s bids to join the alliance] becomes too complicated to deal with,” local media reported on Tuesday.

“Turkey isn’t helpless. Even leaving NATO should be considered as an alternative if the situation becomes too complicated to deal with. … If Turkey’s objections aren’t taken seriously, it means that its presence in NATO isn’t taken seriously,” Bahçeli said on Tuesday during his party’s group meeting.

The MHP leader also suggested establishing a new security organization in which Turkey, the Turkic world and 57 Islamic countries would participate, “if the developments don’t leave any other option.”

“Maybe this is [for] the best. For instance, a security organization to be formed under the name of the Asia and Middle East Security Organization would also ensure the balancing of NATO around the world,” Bahçeli said.

Finland and Sweden on May 18 submitted a joint application to join NATO as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces a dramatic reappraisal of security in Europe.

Erdoğan, who has threatened to block Finland and Sweden from joining NATO, last week urged the alliance’s members to “respect” Ankara’s concerns about the two countries, which Turkey accuses of harboring terrorists.

Erdoğan accused Stockholm of providing safe haven to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies, and followers of Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Sweden has also imposed embargoes on arms sales to Turkey since 2019 over Ankara’s invasion of Syria.

Erdoğan held separate phone calls with the two countries’ leaders on Saturday, urging them to abandon financial and political support for “terrorist” groups threatening his country’s national security.

Although the president last week said he wasn’t warm to Swedish and Finnish delegations’ request to visit Ankara for consultations, the Turkish foreign ministry on Tuesday announced that Turkish officials would meet with the Nordic nations’ delegations in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss their applications to become members of NATO.

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