Turkey could block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, claims ex-Erdogan aide

15 May 2022, 14:46 | Updated: 15 May 2022, 15:14

By James Bickerton

Turkey will block Sweden and Finland from joining the NATO alliance, unless they crackdown on Kurdish militant groups, according to a former adviser to President Recep Erdoğan.

The warning came from Rear Admiral Cihat Yayci, formerly chief of staff of the Turkish Naval Forces Command.

On Sunday Finland formally announced it wants to join the NATO alliance, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden is widely expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

However any new NATO member has to be approved by all current members, and there are growing concerns Turkey could block the Scandanavian nations from joining.

Appearing on Tom Swarbrick's LBC show Rear Admiral Yayci said: "It's not possible for Turkey to support Sweden and Finland joining the pact given that the Nordic countries are home to many terrorist organisations."

He specifically focused on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist group by the EU and US.

READ MORE: Russia writes chilling messages on bombs set for Mariupol after Eurovision plea for help

Rear Admiral Yayci argued the PKK maintains a presence in Sweden in particular, and this must end before NATO membership can be approved.

He added: "What needs to be done is very clear.

"They need to stop allowing PKK outlets, organisations, individuals, and other types of presence to exist in those countries."

The PKK has been fighting an insurgency against the Turkish state for more than four decades.

It is demanding autonomy for the Kurdish region of Turkey, with some members supporting full independence.

Asked about Turkish objections, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said he is "confident we will be able to find a common ground".

Earlier this week Boris Johnson travelled to Finland and Sweden to sign new defensive alliances with both countries.

READ MORE: Finland apply to join NATO after Russia boasts nukes 'can hit country in 10 seconds'

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