Turkey has been closely following developments regarding the possible NATO membership of Finland and Sweden but does not have a opinion about it, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday.
Turkey would not positively welcome Finland and Sweden joining the NATO alliance, Erdoğan said describing the initiative as a mistake.
“We do not have a positive opinion. Scandinavian countries are like a guest house for terror organizations,” Erdoğan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.
Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership, which was announced on Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent.
While Turkey has usually maintained good relations with Finland, it had some disagreements with Sweden due to the Scandinavian country’s support to the PKK’s Syrian branch YPG while objecting to Turkey’s cross-border operations against the terror group in northern Syria.
Turkey has traditionally supported NATO’s open-door policy for further expansion. However, Ankara has maintained a neutral position in the Ukraine crisis and assumed a role as a mediator by keeping communication channels with both warring sides.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them.