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Turkey hits back at NATO offers from Finland and Sweden

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized Finland’s decision to apply for NATO membership, claiming that Finland and neighboring Sweden are “home to many terrorist organizations”.

Erdogan’s opposition has the potential to thwart the two nations’ potential bids, as membership of the alliance depends on the unanimous approval of all 30 member states. Turkey is a NATO member.

“We follow developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we do not have positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that it was a mistake for NATO to accept Greece as a member in the past.

“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. In addition, the Scandinavian countries are guest houses for terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said, without going into details of the allegation.

“In some countries they are even members of parliament. It’s not possible for us to be for it,” he added.

In response to Erdogan’s statement, which seemed to surprise Finland, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto urged patience and called for a step-by-step approach.

“We need some patience with this kind of process, it doesn’t happen in a day…let’s take the issues one step at a time,” Haavisto told reporters.

Haavisto has visited Turkey twice in recent months, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto spoke to Erdogan on the phone in early April.

After that call, Niinisto tweeted: “Turkey supports Finland’s goals.”

Finland announced on Thursday that it would apply for NATO membership, with Sweden to follow in the next few days.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto

(AP)

After Finland’s announcement, Moscow said it could be cut off from Russian gas. On Friday, the Russian foreign ministry also warned it could be forced into retaliatory measures against Helsinki.

A statement said: “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory measures, both military-technical and otherwise, to stop threats to its national security.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said Finland had taken “unfriendly steps” against Russia.

Regarding possible answers, Mr. Peskov added: “Everything will depend on how this expansion process of NATO enlargement develops, how far the military infrastructure moves closer to our borders.”

About 60-70 percent of the gas consumed in Finland comes from Russia, but only 5 percent of the country’s total energy consumption last year, according to national statistics. Oil, wood-based biomass and nuclear power are their main energy sources.

Kiev’s successes in repelling the Russian attack are due in part to NATO’s filtering of military vehicles, weapons and other support from its members bordering Ukraine.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Mari

(AP)

Finland has claimed the decision to try to join NATO was caused by Russia’s actions.

“They (Russia) caused this. Look in the mirror,” said Niinisto.

Sweden is also expected to decide whether to join NATO in the coming days and is expected to follow in the footsteps of neighboring Finland.

However, Sweden’s Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said on Friday that the country’s bid to join NATO could increase the risk of a Russian response.

Its accession would mean a major shift in Europe’s security landscape: Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland has embraced neutrality after being defeated by the Soviets in World War II.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-finland-nato-sweden-turkey-b2078248.html Turkey hits back at NATO offers from Finland and Sweden

Bobby Allyn

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