Erdogan accuses Scandinavia of not acting resolutely enough against terrorist groups.
Now he opposes their entry into NATO - which he could prevent single-handedly.
Istanbul - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opposes Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
Erdogan told journalists in Istanbul on Friday (May 13) that he had no “positive opinion” about the two countries joining the military alliance.
He considers the two countries unsuitable NATO members because Scandinavian countries behaved "like a guest house for terrorist organizations".
Erdogan against NATO expansion in the north: Because of a lack of toughness against terrorists, he says
Erdogan accuses the Scandinavian states of offering shelter to members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey, and the left-wing extremist group DHKP-C.
Against these groups, the Turkish state is in a long-standing conflict.
Turkey is currently launching a new military offensive against the PKK group, which is also on the terror list in Europe.
Erdogan does not officially name the fear that his mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine could be jeopardized as the reason.
But the fear that the NATO expansion could give Putin new reason to escalate the Ukraine conflict may play a role for the Turkish president.
NATO member Turkey maintains good relations with both Ukraine and Russia.
So far, the country has been ambivalent about the Ukraine war: It supplied Ukraine with combat drones - but unlike its western allies, it has not imposed any sanctions on Russia.
Turkey has also repeatedly offered to mediate in negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and has already made concrete efforts.
Video: Erdogan maintains close relations with Russia and Ukraine - and wants to mediate
Whatever the actual motivation for Erdogan's recent statements, Turkey would certainly have the option of blocking the admission of Sweden and Finland.
After all, the admission of each new member must be decided unanimously by the existing NATO member states.
Sweden's NATO accession approved domestically: Parliament confirms need for security
Turkey's stance is becoming public at a time when Sweden's path to a NATO contribution would be leveled domestically: A security policy report published on Friday (May 13) comes to the (not too surprising) conclusion that Sweden's membership in the military alliance would reduce the risk of conflict in Northern Europe.
"Swedish NATO membership would raise the threshold for military conflicts and thus have a deterrent effect in Northern Europe," said the Swedish parliament's report.
The parliamentary report does not contain any explicit recommendation as to how the country should decide with regard to NATO.
But Sweden's current situation is clearly classified as uncertain: It is "unrealistic to develop bilateral defense alliances outside of the existing European and Euro-Atlantic structures".
Under the current safety net, there is “no guarantee that Sweden would be helped if it were seriously threatened or attacked”.
Sweden and Finland's intention to join NATO: made official by public statement
On Thursday (May 12), the heads of state of Sweden's neighboring country Finland also confirmed their intention to join NATO: President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin spoke on Thursday in a joint statement for an "immediate" application for membership western defense alliance.
Russia reacted immediately with criticism and threats.
Sweden and Finland had remained outside military alliances for decades.
However, the Russian war of aggression since February 24 has triggered efforts to join NATO in both countries - Sweden seemed to find broad support for the project among the population more quickly.
mvz with dpa