"Turkey does not view Sweden's NATO application favorably"
Turkey is positive about Finland's membership application to NATO but does not lean towards Sweden's application, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
NATO "We see Finland differently, but we do not see Sweden favourably," Erdogan said in a televised address on TRT about the two countries' applications.
Sweden and Finland applied to join the transatlantic defence pact last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, but encountered unexpected objections from Turkey and have since sought its support.
Ankara wants Helsinki and Stockholm in particular to take a tougher stance against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey and the European Union consider a terrorist group, and another group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt, and especially to force Sweden to extradite a number of Turkish citizens who have sought refuge there.
"We told them to give us back those 120 terrorists. They said they would change the constitution first. Their prime minister came here, and we had a good talk. The new Swedish government gave messages that a change in counterterrorism could begin. However, we saw that the commitments were not kept," Erdogan said, referring to an agreement Turkey reached with the Nordic countries in Madrid last June.
Ankara suspended the talks last month as tensions rose following protests in Stockholm in which a far-right Danish politician burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.
"We cannot tolerate that Sweden, despite all our warnings, stands idly by while attacks are carried out against the Koran. This is a hate crime. Sweden must deal with it quickly," Erdogan said.
Over the weekend, Erdogan signalled that Ankara might agree to Finland joining NATO before Sweden does. However, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Monday that his country was sticking to its plan to submit the application jointly with Sweden.