Finland’s foreign minister said Saturday that last week’s bombing in Istanbul, which Ankara has blamed on the Kurdish militant group PKK, could hinder talks with Turkey on joining NATO
Turkey has held up Finland and Sweden’s NATO bid over their alleged support for the PKK and other Kurdish groups. Ankara is seeking the extradition of suspected PKK members, mostly from Sweden, and has said the Nordic nations have yet to fulfill a deal they signed with Turkey to join NATO.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the Istanbul bombing, which killed six people, will make Turkey want to raise the issue of terrorism even more. “It’s a momentum that Turkey is using and of course they have all the rights to raise this issue during the NATO process,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
In response to the Istanbul bombing, Turkey launched major airstrikes in northern Syria and Iraq. Turkish officials have blamed the violence on the US and other Western countries for supporting Kurdish groups in northeast Syria.
“Our Western allies must think long and hard about their support. They are directly and indirectly trying to destabilize our country. Their support results in loss of innocent Turkish lives,” Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s communications director, wrote on Twitter Monday. His comments came in response to rocket fire that hit a Turkish district near the Syrian border in response to the Turkish airstrikes.
Sweden has a larger Kurdish population than Finland, which Haavisto acknowledged, and appears to have more issues with Turkey when it comes to reaching a deal on NATO. But the two Nordic nations have linked their NATO memberships and intend to follow through on the process together, and it’s unlikely Turkey would approve one and not the other.