Macron slams Turkey as he demands respect for Finland and Sweden's NATO bid

The French President spoke on the phone with the Turkish leader on Thursday, as President Erdogan is holding a veto on the two northern European countries joining the US-led military alliance.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday, following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey surprised NATO allies last week by objecting to the two countries’ membership, saying they 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.

All 30 NATO states must give their approval before a new member can be admitted and thus benefit from the collective-security guarantee.

A spokesperson for the Elysee said President Macron “stressed the importance of respecting the sovereign choice of these two countries in response to the evolution of their security environment”.

The Elysee added that the two leaders agreed to extend efforts “in a spirit of coordination in order to obtain a ceasefire and a return to respect for international humanitarian law and to make possible Ukrainian grain exports on which many countries depend for their food security”.

Finland and Sweden sent delegations to Ankara on Wednesday to try to resolve Turkish opposition to their applications for membership of NATO.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Tuesday: “We understand that Turkey has some of their own security concerns vis-a-vis terrorism.

“We think that these issues can be settled. There might be also some issues that are not linked directly to Finland and Sweden but more to other NATO members.”

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“Since 2017, our country has requested the extradition of PKK/PYD and FETO terrorists from Sweden but has yet to receive a positive response,” it said, referring to Syria’s main Kurdish party PYD and Gulen’s group FETO in addition to PKK.

A Turkish official said Turkey would not backtrack in its talks with Sweden and Finland unless concrete progress was made to address Ankara’s security concerns, adding it was not separately negotiating with Washington over the Nordic countries.

“There are a number of diplomatic initiatives ongoing,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in a statement.

“We have no further comments.”

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