Ankara has not seen enough progress from Sweden to back its NATO application, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned US President Joe Biden in a phone call Sunday ahead of a NATO leaders’ summit this week. week.
“Erdoğan stated that Sweden has taken some steps in the right direction by making changes to anti-terror legislation,” Turkey’s communications directorate said in a statement. statement after the bilateral call.
But supporters of “terrorist organizations,” pro-Kurdish groups including the PKK and YPG, which are banned in Turkey, continue to hold demonstrations in Sweden, according to the statement. “This annuls the measures taken,” he said.
The call comes ahead of a two-day summit of NATO leaders in Lithuania that begins on Tuesday. Biden has lent his support to a push to reach a deal on Sweden at the meeting in Vilnius.
Erdoğan’s administration has been blocking Sweden’s hopes of joining the defense alliance, accusing Stockholm of backing Kurdish separatism. While he had initially accused Finland of doing the same, Erdoğan later gave Helsinki’s request the green light and the country became a NATO member in April.
Biden and Erdoğan also discussed the sale of US F-16 fighter jets to Turkey on the call, with the Turkish president “noting that it is not correct to associate” Ankara’s request for F-16 jets with the offer of Sweden’s membership in NATO, according to the statement.
In the call, Erdoğan also mentioned Turkey’s “desire to revive the EU membership process,” according to the statement. The Turkish president said he would like to see EU member states send a “strong and clear message” in support of his EU bid at the NATO summit in Lithuania.
Although Turkey became a candidate for full EU membership in 1999, talks have stalled over the past decade. The country has not committed to carrying out the necessary reforms to meet the criteria established by Brussels.
Erdoğan and Biden agreed to meet face to face in Vilnius and discuss in detail the bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States and regional issues, according to the Turkish statement.