Blinken calls on Türkiye to drop Nato veto on Sweden and Norway
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for Sweden and Finland to be accepted into Nato as Turkey said it was angered by claims it would only acquire F-16 fighter jets if it dropped its veto.
Turkiye has delayed the Nordic neighbours’ admissions over their refusal to extradite alleged Kurdish separatists. And members of the US Congress have now reportedly tied approval of the F-16 deal to Nato enlargement.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine but faced Turkey’s veto instead.
“We’re confident that Nato will formally welcome them in soon, Blinken told the media beside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. “And when that happens, it will enhance the security of every Nato member, including the United States, including Turkiye.”
Cavusoglu said Ankara was willing to approve Finish membership before Sweden. Turkey has condemned alleged Swedish tolerance of support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which demands independence from Ankara. The US and European Union also label the PKK a terrorist organisation.
“Unfortunately PKK supporters are still present in Sweden,” Cavusoglu told the media. “They are recruiting people and they are financing terror acts and they are carrying out terror propaganda in Sweden because they don’t want Sweden to become a Nato member.”
He said Swedish constitutional concessions did not convince Turkey’s parliament and people.
“Sweden made a law change, but we see that every kind of activities, including terrorism financing, recruitment and propaganda, are continuing in Sweden,” Cavusoglu said.
Ankara has also been angered by Sweden – a liberal democracy with the right to protest – allowing protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and not preventing anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, from burning a Koran.
Cavusoglu condemned any attempt to link enlargement to the F-16.
“It would not be right or fair to make two independent issues the two countries’ Nato membership and the purchase of F-16s conditional on each other,” Cavusoglu said, without explaining how this was different from Ankara blocking Nato enlargement in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.
“It would not be possible for us to purchase the F-16s under these conditions.”
Ankara hopes to upgrade its F-16 fleet. It was expelled from the project to develop the F-35 fighter when it decided to buy Russian air defense hardware about four years ago.
An effigy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sweden last month. Picture credit: YouTube