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Turkey expects concrete steps, not words from allies: Erdoğan

04:39 24 May 2022 Author :  

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized NATO allies for failing to take action to address Turkey's security concerns.

Speaking at a ceremony for the domestically developed Hızır Reis and Selman Reis submarines in Gölcük, Kocaeli, the president said Ankara expects its NATO allies to take concrete steps to address its security concerns rather than making ineffectual statements.

He was referring to Sweden and Finland's recent applications to become NATO members. Both countries have refused to cooperate with Turkey on terrorist groups that pose a threat to the country's national security.

Stressing Turkey's great contributions to NATO's security and the vital role it plays for all of its allies, the president said policies that ignore basic security concerns will not benefit anyone.

"We believe that an enlargement policy which ignores fundamental security concerns will not benefit us or NATO," Erdoğan said.

He also criticized Sweden for its sanctions against Turkey, noting that Ankara will not ignore it.

Erdoğan continued by saying that NATO needs to respond to Turkey's security concerns at a time when alliance partnership is the most necessary, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine and other threats.

"At a time when we were dealing with Daesh's cross-border rocket attacks targeting our cities and terrorist attacks, the air-defense systems in our country were hastily removed by our allies," Erdoğan said and added: "Turkey has not received the support it expects from its allies regarding meeting its defense needs, its legitimate cross-border operations, or its 40-yearlong counterterrorism struggle."

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday – a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began in February.

But Turkey, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

Erdoğan has placed an obstacle to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance. He accuses Stockholm, and to a lesser extent Helsinki, of supporting the PKK terrorist group and other groups that Ankara views as terrorists and a threat to national security.

Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO, also accuses the two Nordic countries of imposing restrictions on exports of defense industry equipment to Turkey and of failing to extradite suspects wanted by Turkish authorities.

Sweden and Finland had imposed arms export embargoes on Turkey after its military operation seeking to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of YPG terrorists, the PKK's Syrian offshoot, in 2019.

Erdoğan described Sweden as an “incubation center for terrorist organizations,” saying some members of its parliament supported the PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union, has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Ankara accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

'Finland may reassure Turkey on tougher monitoring of PKK'

Finland may give security reassurances to Turkey regarding the PKK terrorist group’s activities in the country, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Sunday as Ankara underlined that it will not approve the Nordic countries' NATO bids over their support for terrorist groups.

Haavisto told a live broadcast that Finland would reassure Ankara that they would start monitoring the PKK’s activities in a closer manner.

“Since the PKK is recognized as a terrorist group in Europe, we need to undertake the responsibility to prevent terrorist activities in Finland as well,” the top diplomat said.

Noting that negotiations with Turkey would continue at the diplomatic level, Haavisto said he expects them to last several weeks.

“I am optimistic about the solution of the problems but this is not a problem,” he added.

He continued by saying that the Turkish and Finnish presidents touched upon Finland’s fight against terrorism in their phone call on Saturday.

However, Finnish parliamentary speaker Matti Vanhanen said his country cannot extradite PKK terrorists, as he called them “innocent people,” despite the fact that the PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

“Innocent people cannot be extradited to another country, especially if there is a risk that they could be imprisoned,” Vanhanen said, as Turkish officials maintain that they will not approve Helsinki’s NATO bid if it continues to support terrorist groups posing a threat to Turkey’s national security.

Last week, Turkey’s Justice Ministry said Sweden and Finland rejected Ankara’s request for the extradition of people with links to the PKK and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ),

Both of the Nordic countries rejected the extradition of 19 terrorists and did not respond to Turkey's request for five others.

Turkey requested the extradition of six FETÖ and six PKK suspects from Finland based on court rulings in the past five years.

The extradition process for nine terrorists, including two in Finland and seven in Sweden, is still ongoing./DS

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