Erdogan made the link between Sweden's membership in the organization and Türkiye's long-pending application to join the EU for the first time before leaving Ankara for a NATO summit starting Tuesday in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
In a phone call with US President Joe Biden on Sunday, he said he expected a "clear and strong" message of support from NATO leaders for Türkiye's EU ambitions, his office said. There was no immediate comment from the White House.
"Türkiye has been waiting at the door of the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all of the NATO member countries are now members of the European Union," Erdogan said Monday. "I am making this call to these countries that have kept Türkiye waiting at the gates of the European Union for more than 50 years."
"Come and open the way for Türkiye's membership in the European Union. When you pave the way for Türkiye, we'll pave the way for Sweden as we did for Finland," he added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenbeg said he supported Türkiye's EU accession bid, but noted that it was not among the conditions in the agreement signed by Sweden, Finland and Türkiye at last year's NATO summit in Madrid.
Stoltenberg reiterated that Sweden had met those conditions and said he thinks it is "still possible to have a positive decision" on the country's pending membership during this week's summit in Lithuania.
Türkiye is a candidate for EU accession, but EU claims that Türkiye's democratic development is slowing, disputes with Cyprus and other problems have hindered the country's progress towards joining the bloc.
Türkiye has objected to Sweden's protection of PKK militants and urged it to exert more pressure. It said it would not approve Sweden's NATO membership unless it met Türkiye's demands.
Anti-Türkiye and anti-Islam protests in the Swedish capital have raised doubts that an agreement to meet Türkiye's demands can be reached before the alliance summit.
Earlier on Monday, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström expressed optimism that Türkiye would withdraw its objections. He said it was not a question of whether Sweden would become a member, but when.
Billström told public broadcaster SVT that he expected Türkiye to eventually signal that Sweden was ready to join the 31-nation military alliance, but would not say whether that would happen at the annual summit.
"What we are counting on, of course, is to reach a point where we get a message back from President Erdogan that there will be what you might call a green light(,) ... a message that the ratification process in the Turkish Parliament can start," Billström said.
Erdogan reiterated on Monday that Türkiye expects Sweden to fulfill its demand to crack down on the PKK.
"We are tired of repeatedly saying that (Sweden) needs to fight terrorist organizations and their extensions indiscriminately," Erdogan said.
Billström said he expected Hungary, which also hasn't ratified Sweden's accession, to do so before Türkiye.
Previously non-aligned Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership last year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland joined in April following Turkish ratification.
Source: Global News