© Reuters. Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman and chief foreign policy adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, Turkey, May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Murat Sezer/File Photo
ANKARA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior adviser to the Turkish president told his US counterpart that Turkey wants “concrete steps” regarding the presence of so-called “terrorist organizations” in Finland and Sweden before it accepts NATO bids for the Turkish presidency. Check it out, he said.
The Turkish presidency said in a statement that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Ibrahim Kalin, chief foreign policy adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussed NATO offers and the war in Ukraine on Monday.
Turkey objected to the two countries joining the Western Defense Alliance because they harbor people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and others it believes are terrorists, and because Finland and Sweden in 2019 stopped arms exports to Turkey.
The Turkish presidency said in a statement that Kalin told Sullivan in a phone call that countries wishing to join NATO must “absorb the alliance’s values and principles on security and combating terrorism.”
“It was stressed that it is necessary for Sweden and Finland to take concrete steps against terrorist organizations that threaten Turkey’s national security,” she added.
In the call, the White House said Sullivan “expressed support for Turkey’s ongoing direct talks with Sweden and Finland to address concerns about their NATO membership pursuits, which the United States strongly supports.”
Sweden and Finland announced their condemnation of terrorism and their openness to dialogue. All 30 NATO members must agree to plans to expand the alliance.
Erdogan said in comments published by The Economist on Monday that Turkey’s commitment to NATO has not changed, and called on allies to focus their efforts on “persuasive” the candidate countries.
“Sweden and Finland’s relentless insistence on joining the alliance has added an unnecessary item to NATO’s agenda,” he said. “There is no authority in Ankara that a country that does not wish to fight terrorism can tell what to do.”
The White House said Sullivan “also reiterated the importance of refraining from escalation in Syria in order to preserve existing ceasefire lines and avoid any further destabilization.”