Erdogan suggests Turkey may allow Finland to join NATO, block Sweden

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested Sunday that his country may approve Finland's bid join NATO but block neighboring Sweden's, citing recent pro-Kurdish and anti-Islam protests in Stockholm. Erdogan also complained that Sweden has yet to extradite 120 people Turkey accuses supporting the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which he calls "terrorists." "You will extradite these terrorists if you really want to enter NATO," Erdogan said he told Sweden. "If you don't extradite these terrorists, then sorry."

Joining NATO requires approval from all 30 member nations, and only Turkey and Hungary have not yet ratified the applications from Sweden and Finland, BBC News reports. "If needed, we could give a different message about Finland," Erdogan said in a prerecorded video to young people in Bilecik province. "Sweden will be shocked when we give the different message about Finland." It isn't clear if Finland would agree to join without Sweden's joint accession.

The continued strain between Turkey and Sweden followed protests last weekend outside Turkey's Embassy in Stockholm, where an anti-Islam activist burned the Quran and pro-Kurdish groups, some waving PKK flags, protested against Turkey and Sweden's agreement to limit PKK activities in country. In one recent protest, a pro-Kurdish group hung an effigy of Erdogan from a lamp post. The Swedish government has condemned the protests but defended the free-speech laws that allow them to take place.

Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway issued travel advisories Saturday, urging their citizens in Turkey to be cautious and avoid large gatherings. Later Saturday, Turkey issued its own travel warning for its citizens in Europe, urging them to avoid anti-Turkish demonstrations, which it blamed on "Islamophobia."

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