Finland and Sweden want to join NATO, the fastest growing military alliance. But now one in 30 NATO members must agree to join: Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 68, and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, 54, have accused Sweden of harboring extremist Kurdish groups, especially supporters of US-based preacher Gulen. Erdogan has blamed the Kulan movement for the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
They also criticize the fact that NATO countries have restricted arms supplies due to Turkey’s actions against these groups. Erdogan threatened in Ankara on Monday that one could not agree to the accession of countries that have imposed sanctions on Turkey. Referring to the planned visit of the Finnish and Swedish delegation to Turkey, he said they should not worry.
Erdogan has a “bazaar mindset”
So is it in vain for Swedes and Finns to knock on NATO’s door? Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Aleborne, 73, suspects Erdogan is really interested in extremist groups. Instead, Erdogan is trying to raise prices. Asselborn spoke of a “bazaar mentality” of the Turkish president. He speculated that Ankara’s negative attitude might do something with the fact that Turkey expects concessions on arms supplies.
Laurent Kotzel, 57, a political scientist at the University of Basel and director of the Swiss Peace Foundation Swisspeace, describes Erdogan’s statements as “poker.” “After removing Turkey from the F-35 program, he wants to get something from the United States,” Kotzel told Flick. The United States did not supply the jets to Ankara because Turkey bought Russia’s anti-missile defense system.
More about exploding NATO access
However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Erdogan’s government. However, he did not believe that Erdogan was really serious about his veto.
Ambassadors will be cool
The ambassadors to Sweden and Finland in Switzerland are also optimistic. Sweden’s John Nutson (64) told Flick: “Sweden and Finland have a good dialogue with Turkey on our security policy. We will continue to engage in this dialogue to find a way forward.”
For Finnish Ambassador Valteri Hirvonen (60), it is natural for someone to encounter “stumbling blocks and potholes” along this path. “But we need to stay calm and overcome obstacles with our future partners.”
Hirvonen tells Flick: “We received positive signals from Turkey some time ago. Of course, we now need to look at what really affects Turkish security concerns and how to deal with them.”
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