Erdogan says Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘not acceptable’
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Akif Cagatay Kilic, a key political ally of Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, has told Express.co.uk that his country sees Mr Johnson as “a strong ally” and “hopes the relationship can continue.” But he also emphasised that Turkey will not accept Sweden and Finland’s applications to join the alliance until they stop supporting a Kurdish terrorist group, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and its affiliates.
Mr Kilic, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, landed in London on Monday just as Mr Johnson was facing a vote of no confidence from Conservative MPs as party leader.
In the end the Prime Minister survived but saw 148 of his MPs – 41 percent of the Parliamentary party – vote against him in a blow to his authority.
Mr Kilic, who had a meeting with his counterpart and a leadership hopeful Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, admitted to being surprised that Mr Johnson was facing a challenge.
But he pointed out that Mr Johnson is one-eighth Turkish and has a positive relationship with his country.
He said: “The Prime Minister has had an interesting week. In politics it’s never easy but Boris Johnson is an experienced politician.
“He has been quite a strong ally so far, I hope it continues that way.
“It has been a good relationship so far, he has been in contact with our president.
“There is a will from the British Parliament to engage. Britain has been a good NATO ally so far, I hope it stays that way.”
But Mr Johnson has also been behind efforts to bring Sweden and Finland into NATO which Turkey is opposing because of their alleged support for the PKK and other Kurdish terrorist groups.
In Sweden in particular the Government led by Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has a majority of one and only survived a vote of confidence because of the support of a Kurdish/ Swedish MP Amineh Kakabaveh this week who said she had received assurances on continued support.
Both governments claim they are only giving humanitarian aid, but Mr Kilic pointed out that they have also refused to deport alleged PKK terror suspects.
The UK has already signed a defence pact with both Finland and Sweden after Vladimir Putin threatened them in the wake of the Ukraine war and Britain is supporting their application to join Nato which needs unanimous consent from the member countries.
Mr Kilic said: “What Sweden and Finland are saying is we want the second largest army of NATO – which is the army of Turkey – to protect and support our land, borders, security, our people as a member of NATO because they will be able to enact Article 5 if they are a full member.
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“We are saying ‘excuse me, I am a NATO member I am on the ground I will be respecting my duties and responsibilities under Nato Article 5 what are you going to do? Because you are harbouring the terrorist organisation in Sweden and Finland that is killing my people, not respecting my border, that is an existential threat towards my country, so what are you going to do?’”
He pointed out that 40,000 Turkish military personnel have been killed fighting the PKK, a prescribed terrorist group, and warned that the group and its affiliates are behind organised crime, drug smuggling, human trafficking including to the UK across the Channel, and extortion.
He also noted that the only time Article 5 – the agreement to go to war if another NATO member is attacked – was invoked was after the 9/11 attack on the USA.
He said: “Why don’t we accept the fact that drug money, human trafficking and embezzlement are done in Europe by the PKK and its offshoots. They are getting all this money and using it against Turkey.
“What do the Swedes and Finns expect us to do? Are we going to close our eyes and say it’s ok.”
Mr Kilic accepted that Turkey has disagreements with other NATO members including Greece “the spoilt child of Europe” and senior politicians in the US including US Speaker Nancy Pelosi who he accused of “interfering over issues she knows nothing about.”
Ms Pelosi allowed the Greek Prime Minister to address the joint Houses of Congress and has been a critic of Turkey.
But he pointed out that this does not mean they will accept new NATO members like Sweden and Finland where they have fundamental disagreements.
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