Sweden has pushed back against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claims that it is soft on terrorism, as Ankara continues to block the country’s NATO accession bid.
Erdoğan is holding up Sweden and Finland’s accession to the military alliance, claiming that the two Nordic countries are supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian sister group, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“Giving all kinds of support to the PKK/YPG terrorist organization and also asking us for support for NATO membership is, to say the least, inconsistent,” Erdoğan said in a speech Wednesday.
The Turkish leader also said that Ankara had asked for 30 “terrorists” from Sweden.
Swedish officials have insisted that they are open to dialogue with Ankara. But in an unusually blunt tweet on Friday, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde rejected the notion that her country supports terrorism.
“Due to the vastly spread disinformation about Sweden and PKK, we would like to recall that the Sweden Government of Olof Palme was first after Turkey to list PKK as a terrorist organization, already in 1984,” Linde wrote, noting that the EU “followed suit” in 2002.
Sweden’s position, the minister said, “remains unchanged.”
Current and former officials have indicated that Turkey’s objections might be part of a broader negotiation, as Erdoğan aims to garner concessions from the United States.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisted on Thursday that consensus could still be found on Stockholm and Helsinki’s membership bids.
“I am confident that we will come to a quick decision to welcome both Sweden and Finland to join the NATO family,” he said.