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Erdogan reiterates threat to freeze Swedish and Finnish NATO bids

#Erdogan #reiterates #threat #freeze #Swedish #Finnish #NATO #bids

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday renewed his threat to “freeze” both Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership applications unless the military alliance meets Ankara’s conditions.

At a NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June, Erdogan called on the two countries to “do their part” in the fight against terrorism and accused them of providing a safe haven for banned Kurdish militants.

On Monday, the eve of the tripartite summit with Russia and Iran, Erdogan told reporters; “I want to reiterate that if these countries do not take the necessary steps to meet our terms, we will freeze the process.”

“We particularly note that Sweden does not have a good image on this issue,” added the Turkish leader.

Earlier this month, NATO launched the accession processes for Sweden and Finland after reaching a deal with Turkey, which had blocked the Nordic nations’ accession.

Erdogan has accused both countries of being havens for Kurdish militants, particularly citing the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which he was trying to crush, and promoting “terrorism”.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price did not respond directly when asked about Erdogan’s remarks, but referred to Turkey’s green light during the NATO summit for the Nordic nations’ NATO membership.

“Turkey, Finland, Sweden – they signed a trilateral memorandum in Madrid to start this process,” Price told reporters.

“The United States will continue to work with these three countries to make this process of accession and ratification—here and around the world—as expeditious and efficient as possible,” he said.

Erdogan is scheduled to board a plane to Tehran on Monday evening for Tuesday’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi, who he hopes will give the green light to armed intervention in northwestern Syria.

Ankara has been threatening since late May to launch an operation to create a 30-kilometer “security zone” along its border to fight Kurdish fighters leading an insurgency against the Turkish state.

Both Tehran and Moscow have already spoken out against such an offensive.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are all key players in the war that has been ravaging Syria since 2011, with Moscow and Tehran backing Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Ankara supporting the rebels.

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