ANKARA/HELSINKI, May 13 (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact given that the Nordic countries were "home to many terrorist organisations".
Though Turkey has officially supported NATO enlargement since it joined the U.S.-led alliance 70 years ago, its opposition could pose a problem for Sweden and Finland given new members need unanimous agreement.
Turkey has repeatedly slammed Sweden and other Western European countries for its handling of organisations deemed terrorist by Ankara, including the Kurdish militant groups PKK and YPG, and the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara says Gulenists carried out a coup attempt in 2016. Gulen and his supporters deny the accusation.
Finland's plan to apply for NATO membership, announced Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent by launching the invasion of Ukraine.