A representative of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Finland and Sweden to stop "wasting NATO's time" in their twin bids to join the Western military alliance. Speaking to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Erdogan's office further described the bid as ultimately 'pointless'.
"It is not right that Finland and Sweden are wasting NATO's time at this critical moment," Erdogan adviser Fahrettin Altun was cited as saying. He emphasized that so far the Scandinavian countries have offered only empty words without action in the face of legitimate Turkish demands and concerns.
"Before this application, they may have thought, 'Turkey will be convinced anyway' or 'Turkey will not object'. However… Turkey will protect its interests at all costs," Altun, who is the Turkish presidency's head of media and communications, said.
Erdogan and top officials have demanded that Finland and Sweden halt their embracing of dissident Kurdish groups including the outlawed PKK. Statements from Ankara have gone so far as to demand that PKK rallies in these countries be banned, requiring a change in local laws.
Additionally, at a moment Turkey has said it is readying a new military operation in northern Syria against the Kurds (specifically the YPG), Erdogan has said the Nordic countries must drop arms restrictions on Turkey which the EU implemented in 2019.
Concerning Turkey's security demands, which have been delivered to Finnish and Swedish delegations in written form, Altun emphasized there remains no difference in "what we say to them and what we say in public."
Repeating the statements of the foreign minister and of Erdogan himself, Altun told the Swedish newspaper, "Sweden needs to make a concrete and permanent policy change on terrorism. Extradition of terrorists to Turkey and preventing terrorist organizations from operating on Swedish soil are indispensable."
Great to meet with Prime Minister @MarinSanna of our close partner #Finland in Washington. We discussed the need to address #Turkey's concerns & move forward with the #NATO membership application by Finland & Sweden. pic.twitter.com/wPTjhYHMLy
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) June 3, 2022
All of these things are of course tall orders, meaning the simultaneous bids for membership appear at least for now indefinitely stalled, following their formal application submissions on May 18, ostensibly as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had over a month ago even suggested the two countries would be 'fast-tracked' in the ascension process, amid initial enthusiasm, but Turkey has certainly poured cold water on that prospect at this point.