President Tayyip Erdogan held firm on his stance towards Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids on Tuesday, saying Turkey wanted results not words to address its concerns, adding he will also push US President Joe Biden on a “stalled” F-16 fighter jet purchase.
Breaking with decades of a policy of neutrality, Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But they have faced opposition from Turkey over what it says is the Nordic countries’ support for militants it views as terrorists, and arms embargoes on Ankara.
Turkey has held talks with the Nordic countries and NATO to address its concerns and has given Finnish and Swedish officials written demands. It has said the responses were not satisfactory and that it would block their bids unless its demands are met.
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Speaking before departing for a NATO summit in Madrid where he will meet the Nordic and NATO leaders for talks on the bids, Erdogan said the two candidates must consider Ankara’s concerns if they want to be NATO allies.
“We will hold these four-way talks together and see what point they have reached,” Erdogan told reporters at the airport.
“We do not want dry words, we want results. We are sick of passing the ball around in the mid-field. As of now, they are producing words,” he said.
Erdogan’s spokesperson and deputy foreign minister met Swedish and Finnish officials in Brussels on Monday for consultations on the membership bids ahead of the four-way meeting at the summit. Turkish officials and Western diplomats told Reuters a breakthrough was unlikely in Madrid.
Also read: Erdogan says won’t let ‘terrorism-supporting’ countries enter NATO
Erdogan said he would explain Turkey’s position to allies at the summit and in bilateral meetings. He added he had spoken to Biden on Tuesday morning and the two would meet in person either later in the day or on Wednesday, upon the US president’s request.
He said he would discuss the issue of Ankara’s procurement of S-400 defences from Russia – which lead to US sanctions – and a request to buy 40 F-16 jets and modernisation kits from Washington at the meeting, as well as other bilateral issues.
“Our most important discussion with the United States is the F-16 issue. That is still on the table, but there is a stalling tactic here,” he said.
The White House later confirmed the two will meet in Madrid.