Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday stated that he would support Sweden’s NATO candidacy solely if the European Union recommences membership negotiations with Turkey, which have been at a standstill for an extended period.
On the eve of a significant NATO summit, where Western leaders aim to exhibit solidarity in response to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, the Turkish leader introduced a new condition.
Turkey has been blocking Sweden’s accession for months because of Stockholm’s failure to crack down on PKK terror group members and sympathisers in the country.
PKK has been waging a bloody terror campaign against Turkey for the last 40 years.
Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, attempted to dismiss Erdogan’s demand, stating that it was unrelated to the matter of providing Sweden with the security assurances offered by the world’s most formidable military organization.
Erdogan argued that many of the leaders who were hindering Turkey’s European Union membership were now requesting his support for Sweden’s candidacy.
“Almost all the NATO members are EU members. I now am addressing these co untries, which are making Turkey wait for more than 50 years, and I will address them again in Vilnius,” Erdogan said moments before boarding his flight for the summit in the Lithuanian capital.
“First, open the way to Turkey’s membership of the European Union, and then we will open it for Sweden, just as we had opened it for Finland.”
Turkey submitted its initial application to become a member of the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the EU, in 1987. It obtained the status of an EU candidate country in 1999 and commenced formal negotiations for membership with the European Union in 2005.