Turkey’s president criticized Sweden’s security policy and defended his relationship with his Russian official brother, Vladimir Putin.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is preparing for the second round of presidential elections, on Friday reiterated his old positions regarding Sweden in an interview published on the website of the American media CNN.
According to Erdogan, Turkey is still not ready to accept Finland’s western neighbor as a member of the military alliance. He cited his own security concerns about the way Sweden responded to terrorism as the reason.
– As long as Sweden allows branches of terrorist groups operating in Turkey to roam in Sweden – on the streets of Stockholm – we cannot look favorably on Sweden’s membership in NATO, Erdogan said.
– We are not yet ready for Sweden, because the NATO country should have a strong position in the fight against terrorism.
In the interview, journalist Becky Anderson also asked Erdogan about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Turkey has criticized Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, but has not joined the Western withdrawal front.
– We are not at the point where we will impose sanctions on Russia, as the West has done. We will not bind ourselves by Western sanctions. Erdogan said, we are a strong country and we have positive relations with Russia. He said that Russia and Turkey “need each other in every possible field.”
In August last year, it was reported that Turkey has doubled its oil imports from Russia. Also, the countries have agreed to intensify their economic cooperation, especially in the energy sector, which has been particularly hit by Western sanctions.
Erdogan will compete against Kemal Kilikdaroglu, the main candidate of the Turkish opposition, in the second round of the presidential election on Sunday, May 28. Kilicdaroglu has accused Russia of meddling in the elections and warned of consequences in his possible presidential term. According to him, Russia has spread, among other things, deeply fake videos and conspiracies on Turkish social media.
Kilicdaroglu has also promised to improve Turkey’s strained relations with the West. On the other hand, he has threatened to deport lakhs of migrants back from the country.
With his anti-immigration message, Kilikdaroglu has sought the support of ultra-nationalist lawmaker Sinan Ogan, who has become a key figure in Turkey’s presidential election after dropping out of the race in the first round of the election.
Both Erdogan and Kilikdaroglu are coursing with Ogan to win their votes to support the second round of the election.