ANKARA, May 18 (KUNA) -- The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called, on NATO on Wednesday to respect Ankara's concerns about Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.
This came in a speech delivered during parliamentary group meeting of Turkey's Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital Ankara.
"As a NATO member, Turkey will not agree to any enlargement that could leave the military alliance less secure, nor harm its own security", Erdogan said.
"We expect our allies to understand our sensitivities (on counter-terror efforts), to show respect and to provide support if possible," he noted.
"We are one of the top countries that actively support the activities of the (NATO) alliance, but this does not mean we will agree to every proposal without question," he said, adding that NATO enlargement can work if Turkey's sensitivities are respected.
Erdogan underlined Turkey's need to protect its borders from terror groups.
Turkey, a longstanding NATO member, has voiced objections to Finland and Sweden's membership bids, criticizing the two Nordic countries for tolerating and even supporting terror groups.
For any new member to join NATO, all the alliance's members must agree unanimously, including Turkey, Erdogan added.
Senior representatives of Sweden and Finland are scheduled to visit Turkey in the coming days to hold official talks on the two countries' accession to NATO.
Erdogan's comments came after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg received earlier today an official request for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance. (end) rs.nhq