Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun said, " If we give the green light for Sweden's NATO membership, this means we vow to protect the Swedish people in the event of an attack under Article 5. If we are to assume such responsibility for Sweden, we need to be firmly convinced that the money collected in your country will not be used to attack Turkish citizens, nor will Swedish weaponry emerge from terrorist shelters in Syria or Iraq."
Presidency’s Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun answered the questions of Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden’s leading newspapers, regarding Sweden’s NATO membership application.
Upon being asked whether Sweden’s Anti-Terror Law that will be tightened on July 1 and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde’s strongest condemnation of terrorism in recent days has altered Türkiye’s view of Sweden’s membership application, Director of Communications Altun said that the Swedish government did not even acknowledge the existence of a problem a few months ago.
Director of Communications Altun pointed out that Sweden’s application for NATO membership reveals two facts. Firstly, it was seen how powerful the PKK terrorist organisation is in Sweden, that its members blackmail the Swedish government due to parliamentary arithmetic, and that they devote all of their time to obtaining outcomes for the organisation.
Stating that the acknowledgement of the problem from these perspectives is undoubtedly a positive development, Director of Communications Altun said, “On the other hand, sadly, the Turkish people have lost faith in the statements of the Europeans as a result of the numerous unfulfilled promises made to Türkiye on EU membership, Cyprus, the fight against terrorism, and the fight against irregular migration. Therefore, we no longer demand words but rather deeds.”
“We will not make any concessions on the issue of terrorism in order to make anyone pleased”
Underlining that Türkiye has traditionally supported NATO’s open-door policy, Director of Communications Altun added:
“Even when Greece rejected the membership of North Macedonia for 11 years, we were in favour of enlargement.
Türkiye has long been disturbed by the presence of PKK and FETÖ in Sweden. The PKK, which the European Union designates as a terrorist organisation, has martyred Turkish citizens for 40 years. These attacks targeted more than just the security forces. They killed tens of thousands of people, including doctors, teachers, and even babies. Likewise, FETÖ, which attempted a coup in Türkiye in 2016, had infiltrated state institutions over the years. Therefore, we have not brought these issues to the agenda today. We will not make any concessions on the issue of terrorism in order to make anyone pleased.”
Upon being reminded that Sweden has long been one of the countries that strongly advocated Türkiye’s EU membership, Altun said, “I do not agree that Sweden’s NATO membership is neither related to bilateral relations nor Türkiye’s EU candidacy process.”
“Türkiye needs to be firmly convinced of terrorism”
Emphasising that Sweden must meet specific criteria to join NATO, Director of Communications Altun underlined that NATO, in particular, takes the fight against terrorism highly seriously.
Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun said, “If we give the green light for Sweden's NATO membership, this means we vow to protect the Swedish people in the event of an attack under Article 5. If we are to assume such responsibility for Sweden, we need to be firmly convinced that the money collected in your country will not be used to attack Turkish citizens, nor will Swedish weaponry emerge from terrorist shelters in Syria or Iraq.”
Noting that Türkiye approaches this process from a principled perspective, Director of Communications Altun said, "The Swedish government has already said how your country would contribute to NATO. Our concern is whether Sweden’s NATO membership will jeopardise the efforts to combat terrorism. We have to ensure that Sweden will uphold the alliance’s values and the security of its prospective allies.”
“There is no differentiation between good and bad terrorists”
When asked why Türkiye criticises Sweden so harshly, stating that within the scope of the fight against DAESH, the US also collaborated with the SDF, which is mostly YPG militants, and armed this group, Director of Communications Altun said that Sweden did not receive any special treatment regarding terrorism.
Stating that Türkiye has been reminding the US and the EU countries for years that it is impossible to differentiate between "good terrorists and bad terrorists," Director of Communication Altun added:
“Because these weapons are directed at our citizens when they are provided to the PKK's Syrian branch under the guise of combating DAESH. However, given that we are currently addressing Sweden, it is natural to discuss the operations of this structure in Sweden and Sweden's policies.
Until the day the United States began arming the YPG, its public institutions were portraying this group as the “PKK's Syrian branch” on their websites. The number of times an organisation has changed its name does not alter the fact that it is a terrorist organisation. A terrorist's past cannot be changed simply because he hasn't committed a crime in Sweden.”
“For Türkiye, the most important thing is the safety of its own citizens”
Stating that they have been open and honest about Türkiye’s expectations with the public since the beginning of the process, Altun said that everyone can rest assured that there is no distinction between what they say to representatives of the Swedish government behind closed doors and what they communicate to the public.
Director of Communications Altun added that for the Republic of Türkiye, the most important thing is the safety of its own citizens.