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Turkey not ‘positive’ about Finland, Sweden bids to join NATO, Erdoğan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday his country doesn’t like the idea of Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

Finland’s leaders announced Thursday their intention to pursue membership in the transatlantic military alliance “without delay.” Sweden is expected to follow suit in the coming days. But those moves, which come in response to Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, have sparked criticism in Turkey, which has been a NATO member since 1952.

“Right now, when it comes to Sweden and Finland, we follow the developments but not with a positive opinion,” Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that he wouldn’t want to repeat what he claims were “mistakes,” including the admission of Greece into NATO. Without evidence, Erdoğan also accused the Nordic countries of harboring terrorists — a charge he often lobs at domestic opponents and Western countries during disagreements.

Erdoğan’s comments could create hurdles for a NATO expansion, as current members would need to unanimously accept Finland and Sweden’s bids to join. But the Turkish leader may also simply be posturing ahead of the expected upcoming discussions on the membership bids.

Sweden and Finland’s foreign ministers later said they would discuss Ankara’s reservations with  their Turkish counterpart in Berlin on Saturday.

The Turkish president’s remarks came a day after Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and President Sauli Niinistö announced that they would back their country joining NATO in a historic shift motivated by the geopolitical and security implications of the war in Ukraine.

This story has been updated.

Victor Jack contributed reporting.

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