Turkey's president says "no" to Sweden and Finland NATO bid
Turkey will oppose Sweden and Finland joining NATO, the country's president flatly stated in a video released Thursday.
"We have told our relevant friends we would say 'no' to Finland and Sweden's entry into NATO, and we will continue on our path like this," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a group of Turkish youth in the video for Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day, a national holiday.
Turkey's approval of Finland and Sweden's application to join the Western military alliance is crucial because NATO makes decisions by consensus. Each of its 30 member countries has the power to veto a membership bid.
Erdogan has said Turkey's objection stems from grievances with Sweden's - and to a lesser degree with Finland's - perceived support of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and an armed group in Syria that Turkey sees as an extension of the PKK. The conflict with the PKK has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.
Turkey also accuses Sweden and Finland of harboring the followers of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom the Turkish government blames for 2016 military coup attempt.