STORY: Though Turkey has officially supported NATO enlargement since it joined the U.S.-led alliance 70 years ago, its opposition could pose a problem for Sweden and Finland given new members need unanimous agreement.
Turkey has repeatedly slammed Sweden and other Western European countries for its handling of organizations deemed terrorist by Ankara, including the Kurdish militant groups PKK and YPG, and the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara says Gulenists carried out a coup attempt in 2016. Gulen and his supporters deny the accusation.
Finland's plan to apply for NATO membership, announced Thursday (May 12), and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent by launching the invasion of Ukraine.
"We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don't hold positive views," Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding it had been a mistake for NATO to accept Greece as a member in the past.