NATO expansion in doubt over Turkey’s objections

and Sweden’s aspirations to join are in doubt as Turkey has renewed its objections to their bid for membership.

Finnish diplomats met their Turkish counterparts on Tuesday in Ankara, according to local media. The meeting marked the latest diplomatic effort by Helsinki to persuade Ankara to agree to its bid to join NATO. For the Atlantic Alliance to expand, all members must agree.

Turkish President Erdogan has expressed reservations over Finland’s and Sweden’s attempts to join, accusing the countries of giving sanctuary to Kurdish groups Ankara considers terrorists. In a speech to parliament earlier this month, Erdogan said he would closely monitor commitments from both Finland and Sweden to address Turkish concerns.

Erdogan said Turkey will not make concessions as a country that has been fighting terrorism for 40 years.

FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after a NATO summit in Brussels on March 24, 2022. FILE – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after a NATO summit in on March 24, 2022.

Earlier in October, the Turkish leader accused Stockholm of reneging on its commitments to Ankara and said that enemies of Turkey continued to operate freely in Sweden. However, Erdogan said he is ready to meet with Sweden’s newly elected to discuss Turkish demands.

Huseyin Bagci, head of the in Ankara, said Erdogan sees NATO expansion as an opportunity.

‘Tayyip Erdogan is trying to increase the leverage of the Turkish process through this. Maybe in the end he will say yes, but he has to take something now. It is a calculated act but whether [it is] a miscalculation, we have to see this,” Bagci said.

News reports say that Sweden has made many security concessions. Ankara is demanding the extradition of dozens of people, including Swedish citizens wanted for terrorist crimes.

Analyst Ilhan Uzgel of the Duvar news portal said concessions from Washington are Erdogan’s main goal.

“In Finland’s and Sweden’s membership bids, he is trying to use these two negotiating markers to get something from the West,” Uzgel said. ‘It can be either a meeting with [U.S. President Joe] Biden; it could be the purchase of F-16 fighter jets from the United States, [or] external support during the elections. Something that will help Erdogan get into a better position before the election.

Erdogan is fading in most opinion polls ahead of elections Turkey must hold in June 2023. Analyst Uzgel said Erdogan will be reluctant to give up leverage over NATO before the June polls.

‘My guess is that he will use it until the election. “It’s leverage that he needs right now, unless he gets something pretty significant from the United States,” Uzgel said. He is completely focused on winning the election because he is losing support at home. So he has to win the election, so he will do whatever it takes to retain power domestically or externally.’

Analysts say Erdogan will also be aware that standing up to NATO and, in particular, the United States, plays well among his religious and nationalist base. This means that Finland and Sweden may have a long wait until they can join the alliance.


    Related Posts