Erdogan says signals from US, Canada may help Turkey move on Sweden NATO bid
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Tuesday as saying that positive developments on the U.S. sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara, and on Canada's arms embargo, would help Turkey's parliament move toward ratifying Sweden's NATO membership bid.
After long-time non-alignment, Sweden and Finland asked to join NATO last year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But NATO member Turkey raised objections over what it said was the two countries' protection of groups that Ankara deems terrorists. Turkey endorsed Finland's membership bid in April but, along with Hungary, it has kept Sweden waiting.
"Positive developments we expect both on (procuring U.S.) F-16s and Canada's promises (on lifting its arms embargo) would help our parliament to have a positive approach on Sweden... All of them are linked," Erdogan told reporters on a flight returning from Hungary, according to a text shared by his office.
Turkey asked in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and 79 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration backs the $20-billion sale, but there have been objections in the U.S. Congress over Turkey delaying Sweden's entry into NATO and over its human rights record.
Canada, for its part, quietly agreed to re-open talks with its NATO ally Turkey on lifting export controls on drone parts, including optical equipment, after Erdogan signalled in July that Sweden would get the green light from Ankara, Reuters reported.
Erdogan said that he discussed the issue of Sweden's NATO accession with U.S. President Joe Biden in a call last week.
"In the call, Mr. Biden said: 'You pass this (Sweden's NATO bid) from the parliament and I will get it (F-16 sale) passed from the Congress'," Erdogan said.