Turkish president: Sweden hasn’t alleviated NATO concerns

June 25, 2022 GMT

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Sweden’s prime minister that he has not seen any “tangible” moves to address Turkey’s concerns about her country joining NATO, Erdogan’s office said Saturday.

Erdogan called in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson for “binding commitments” from Sweden, as well as a “concrete change of attitude” in the country’s approach to fighting terrorism.

He added that Turkey had not seen “any tangible initiative from Sweden that would alleviate Turkey’s concerns at this point” about the Nordic nation’s request to become a NATO member, the president’s communications directorate said in a statement.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the Western military alliance in May following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey, which is a NATO member, has so far blocked the applications, citing what Ankara considers to be a soft approach to organizations such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

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The PKK has waged a 38-year insurgency against Turkey that has left tens of thousands dead.

Turkey is demanding that Sweden and Finland grant extradition requests for individuals who are wanted in Turkey. Ankara claims the countries are harboring PKK members as well people it says are linked to a failed 2016 coup.

Turkey also wants assurances that arms restrictions imposed by the two countries over Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into northern Syria will be removed.

Finland and Sweden’s membership requests and Turkey’s objections are expected to be a central theme at a June 28-30 NATO summit in Madrid.

Erdogan earlier reiterated Turkey’s demands in a phone call with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the presidency said.