President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accepted a request from Sweden’s new prime minister to visit Turkey for talks aimed at overcoming Ankara’s objections to Stockholm and Helsinki’s bids to join NATO, Agence France-Presse reported, citing local media on Friday.
“Sweden’s new prime minister requested an appointment. I told our friends to ‘give an appointment.’… We will discuss these issues with him in our country,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by private NTV television on his plane back from Azerbaijan.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Thursday he was ready to head to Ankara to urge Turkey to back bids by his country’s bid to join the alliance.
Sweden and Finland earlier this year tore up their long-standing policies of non-alignment in the face of Russia’s war on Ukraine and launched their bids to join the US-led military alliance.
The move has received strong backing from the vast majority of the alliance’s members but Erdoğan has stalled the process over accusations the Nordic neighbours are havens for outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and followers of the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016. The movement denies any involvement in the coup.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Kristersson said he aimed to show the Turkish leader that Sweden and Finland “actually do what we promised” to fulfil a deal with Ankara to clear their path into NATO.
Erdoğan said Ankara’s position remained unchanged, calling on Sweden and Finland to deliver “these terrorists” sought by Turkish authorities.
“Unless they are sent back to us, things will not work at the parliamentary stage,” he threatened.
Erdoğan has accused both countries of being havens for “terrorists” and for promoting “terrorism.”