Without clear stance against terrorism, Türkiye unlikely to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid: Communications director

Fahrettin Altun addresses panel discussion on Türkiye's Contributions to Transatlantic Security and NATO Transformation in Vilnius
Fahrettin Altun addresses panel discussion on Türkiye's Contributions to Transatlantic Security and NATO Transformation in Vilnius


If Sweden does not adopt a clear stance against terrorism, its NATO membership approval from Türkiye appears unlikely, the Turkish communications director said on Monday.

“The support and tolerance given to the burning of the Quran under the guise of freedom of expression, along with the increasing Islamophobia and xenophobia, cannot be ignored from Türkiye’s perspective,” Fahrettin Altun said in a video message for the panel discussion, Türkiye’s Contributions to Transatlantic Security and NATO Transformation, organized by Türkiye’s Communications Directorate.

The panel took place in Vilnius, Lithuania ahead of a NATO summit on Tuesday.

Last month, a person identified as Salwan Momika burned a copy of the Quran under police protection in front of a Stockholm mosque in Sweden.

His provocative act was timed to coincide with Eid al-Adha, one of the major Islamic religious festivals celebrated by Muslims worldwide.

“Unfortunately, if Sweden does not take the necessary precautions against these provocations and does not adopt a clear stance against terrorism, it seems unlikely that NATO membership will be approved by Türkiye,” he added.

“Indeed, when Finland and Sweden applied for membership, we clearly expressed our concerns and expectations to them as well as to our other allies,” Altun said.

“Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden signed a trilateral memorandum at the NATO summit in Madrid last year. In terms of the Permanent Joint Mechanism established under this agreement, the fight against terrorism is of great importance.”

He added that Finland has taken sincere steps to fulfill its commitments under the trilateral memorandum and have opened the path to NATO membership.

“However, Sweden does not appear to be determined enough to fulfill the conditions of the memorandum and distance itself from terrorism,” Altun said.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership soon after Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022.

Although Türkiye approved Finland’s membership to the military alliance, it is waiting for Sweden to abide by a trilateral memorandum signed in June 2022 in Madrid to address Ankara’s security concerns.

Türkiye expects the support of alliance members in the fight against terrorism, Altun said.

He said NATO continues to provide a significant area of cooperation and solidarity for all allies, despite the changing historical conditions since its establishment.

“Today, NATO’s actions for stability and prosperity, which are among its founding purposes, should be directed towards international cooperation and solidarity.

“The development of NATO’s capability to deal with current global crises, uncertainties, and potential future problems, as well as shaping the future of the alliance, is among the priority issues.”

Altun stressed that NATO has played an important role in ensuring the security of Türkiye, which has fulfilled its responsibilities to achieve global peace, tranquility, and security goals of the alliance with its comprehensive military capabilities, historical background, and cultural relations since joining the alliance in 1952.

“Considering all these factors, there is an expectation for a transformation in NATO that can operate with more instruments in terms of international cooperation and solidarity.

“Türkiye is collaborating with NATO to realize such a transformation,” the communications director said.

Global security, prosperity threatened by natural disasters

Altun said global security and prosperity in current times is threatened by various factors such as economic crises, pandemics, famine, climate crisis, and natural disasters.

“In the past few years, we have had to direct a significant portion of our energy towards these issues, considering the pandemic, political conflicts, the search for military solutions, and the earthquake disaster that occurred in our country,” he added.

Reminding about the Feb. 6 twin earthquakes in southern Türkiye, Altun said the country has overcome the disaster with an unprecedented solidarity between the state and nation.

“We continue to strive to overcome it,” he said, adding that Türkiye’s international call for assistance has received widespread response.

“More than 100 countries from all around the world offered assistance, and over 10,000 personnel from more than 70 countries supported search and rescue operations in the region,” Altun said.

“In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude once again to all friendly countries who have not spared their support,” he added.

More than 50,000 people were killed and over 107,200 injured in the powerful earthquakes that rocked southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to the latest official figures.

The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude quakes affected more than 13 million people in 11 provinces: Kahramanmaras, Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Elazig, and Sanliurfa.

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