Turkey holds diplomatic talks amid Finland, Sweden NATO blockade

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday told reporters he is engaging in “telephone diplomacy” with foreign leaders as nations look to circumvent Turkey’s blockade on Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bid. Erdogan repeatedly said this week that he would not allow the two European nations to join the military alliance over anger at their ties to individuals Turkey has deemed “terrorists.”Turkish media outlets reported that Erdogan once again doubled down on his blockade Friday after speaking with Netherland’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte. RUSSIA TO BULK UP MILITARY ON WESTERN BORDERS AMID NATO MOVES, UKRAINE WAR
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a welcoming ceremony for his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, May 16, 2022.
(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)But despite his pronouncement this week that Sweden and Finland “shouldn’t bother” attempting to persuade him otherwise, he is reportedly set to hold calls Saturday with British and Finnish leaders. NATO military leaders have championed the move to include the two nations in the security alliance and said it would help shore up defenses against Russia by further identifying “vulnerabilities” on the European continent. But NATO officials who would like to see the alliance expand have a big hurdle ahead of them as all 30 nations will need to agree on Stockholm and Helsinki memberships.NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday promised to discuss Erdogan’s concerns and reiterated that Turkey was “an important ally.”Erdogan has said his chief concerns stem from Sweden’s and Finland’s refusal to hand over 33 individuals that Turkey has requested due to their alleged links to terrorist organizations like the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).The PKK has been designated a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and Turkey. But Erdogan is also infuriated by the West’s stance on an organization led by US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey has accused of facilitating a 2016 coup attempt. 
Finland’s Ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen, left, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Sweden’s Ambassador to NATO Axel Wernhoff attend a ceremony to mark Sweden’s and Finland’s application for membership in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday May 18, 2022. 
(Johanna Geron/Pool via AP)TURKEY RISKS ‘HISTORIC’ SWEDEN, FINLAND NATO BID BY PRIORITIZING POLITICAL AGENDAThe Gülen Movement is referred to as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) by the Turkish government. The U.S., along with Sweden and Finland, have not deemed the movement a terrorist organization and have refused to extradite individuals associated with the group over to Ankara. “NATO is a security organization, we cannot accept the presence of terrorist organizations in it,” Erdogan said during a Thursday event. But some experts on Turkish diplomacy suspect Ankara’s ties to Moscow could be a contributing factor to its move to block NATO expansion.Turkey has been active in attempting to facilitate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, but it has not joined fellow NATO nations in sanctioning Moscow over its deadly invasion. 
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands during their talks at the Kremlin on March 5, 2020, in Moscow. 
(Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPDespite its refusal to slap Russia with economic repercussions, it joined 140 other nations in March to help pass a UN resolution that condemned the invasion and demanded an immediate withdrawal.Turkey then voted in favor of suspending Russia’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council in April, though both these UN actions were largely symbolic in nature.

Mojtaba Sadira

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