Turkey to veto moves to admit Finland and Sweden in NATO, regrets past “mistake” of agreeing to readmit Greece into NATO’s military wing

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that his country is “not favorable” toward Finland and Sweden joining NATO, indicating Turkey could use its membership in the Western military alliance to veto moves to admit the two countries.

“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Erdogan told reporters as quoted by AP.

The Turkish leader explained his opposition by citing Sweden and other Scandinavian countries’ alleged support for Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers to be terrorists.

He said he also did not want to repeat Turkey’s past “mistake” from when it agreed to readmit Greece into NATO’s military wing in 1980. He claimed the action had allowed Greece “to take an attitude against Turkey” with NATO’s backing.

Erdogan did not say outright that he would block any accession attempts by the two Nordic nations. However, NATO makes all its decisions by consensus, meaning that each of the 30 member countries has a potential veto over who can join.

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to reconsider their traditions of military nonalignment. Public opinion in the two countries quickly started to shift toward favoring NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Washington is “working to clarify Turkey’s position” and believes there is “broad support” among NATO members for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance.

Asked about Erdogan’s comments during a press conference in Helsinki, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said: “We need some patience in this type of process. It’s not happening in one day. This is all what I can say at the moment. Let’s take issues step by step.”

The Finnish minister said he was likely to hold discussions with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, at the NATO meeting in Berlin over the weekend. Cavusoglu spoke Friday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, but Turkey’s Foreign Ministry did not provide details. / AP- Argumentum.al