Turkey hopes Britain remains ‘good NATO ally’ despite disagreement on Sweden, Finland

Turkey sees British Premier Boris Johnson as a “strong ally” and hopes the relationship can continue, Akif Çağatay Kılıç, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy and chairman of Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told British tabloid Express on Saturday.

“Britain has been a good NATO ally so far, I hope it stays that way,” Kılıç added.

However, Johnson and his government have also been supportive of Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Britain has already signed defence pacts with both countries and backs their NATO applications.

Kılıç said both Nordic countries have refused to deport persons Turkey considers to be terrorists.

If the two countries become full members, they will be able to invoke the treaty’s Article 5, the collective defence clause. The only past invocation of the article has been for the United States following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“What Sweden and Finland are saying is we want the second largest army of NATO - which is the army of Turkey - to protect and support our land, borders, security, our people as a member of NATO,” Kılıç said.

Turkey respects its duties and responsibilities to the alliance, Kılıç said. “What are (Sweden and Finland) going to do? Because you are harbouring terrorist organisations that kill my people, disrespect my borders, pose an existential threat to my country.”

Turkey maintains that several Syrian Kurdish groups that Sweden in particular has given support to are affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been engaged in conflict with Turkey for some four decades and is included in the European Union’s list of foreign terrorist organisations.

Sweden was the second country after Turkey to designate the PKK a terrorist group, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said last week. However, the country does not recognise the Democratic Unity Party (PYD) or the military force People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists.

Kılıç said the PKK and its affiliates were guilty of drug smuggling and human trafficking, among other illegal activities. “Why don’t we accept the fact that drug money, human trafficking and embezzlement are done in Europe by the PKK and its offshoots? They are getting all this money and using it against Turkey,” he said. “What do the Swedes and Finns expect us to do?”

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