© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey May 18, 2022. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has objected to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, held phone calls with the leaders of the two countries on Saturday and discussed his concerns about terrorist organisations.
Turkey says Sweden and Finland harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.
Erdogan told Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that Ankara expected concrete steps to address its concerns, the Turkish presidency said. He also said an arms exports embargo imposed on Turkey after its Syria incursion in 2019 should be lifted, it added.
Andersson said she appreciated the call. “We look forward to strengthening our bilateral relations, including on peace, security, and the fight against terrorism,” she tweeted.
In another call, Erdogan told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that failing to deal with terrorist organisations that posed a threat to a NATO ally would not suit the spirit of alliance, Ankara said.
Niinisto said he held “open and direct” talks with Erdogan and agreed to continue close dialogue.
Turkey surprised NATO allies last week by objecting to the two countries’ accession to NATO, but Western leaders have expressed confidence that Ankara’s objections will not be a roadblock for the membership process.