The Turkish president cannot stand his opposition for long

Erdogan uses the "veto" card to benefit from the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO

Erdogan will not accept the membership of Sweden and Finland before obtaining gains from Europe.

À AFP

At a time when most European countries and the United States welcome the accession of Finland and Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Turkish refusal to join the two Scandinavian countries comes as a major obstacle to this step, because the agreement to establish the alliance requires the unanimous approval of its members to join any member new.

For his part, political analyst Bob Ghosh sees in an analysis published by Bloomberg News Agency, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's feeling of despair over the positions of the alliance in general, is what prompts him to practice brinkmanship with him regarding the acceptance of Finland and Sweden's membership in the alliance.

Ghosh, the Indian writer and former editor-in-chief of the Hindustan Times newspaper, the first non-American journalist to hold the position of global editor for the American Time magazine, wonders what Erdogan wants from NATO, and whether the alliance is obliged to respond to it.

proactive attitude

And before the Western alliance received an official membership request from Finland and Sweden, the Turkish president had previously said, last Friday, that his country does not look positively at the idea of ​​expanding the alliance and adding new members to it.

Since the rules of the alliance require that all 30 NATO countries agree to any application for accession, Erdogan threatens not only to veto the annexation of the two countries, but also to threaten the unified position of the alliance in the face of the Russian war on Ukraine, near his borders.

Erdogan believes that Finland and Sweden harbor many activists of the Turkish Kurdish minority, some of whom belong to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Turkey considers a terrorist movement.

Erdogan said in televised statements that "the two Scandinavian countries serve as shelters for terrorist organizations."

Turkey has long complained about the activities of the Kurds in northern Europe.

It also feels that NATO membership and its relationship with the West in general, did not guarantee it the required cooperation in fighting Kurdish separatists.

Although the United States and the European Union have designated the PKK as a terrorist organization, they support the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which operates in Syria primarily against ISIS.

opportunism

And if Erdogan's speech last Friday was usual, Ghosh says, his timing was clearly opportunistic.

Several weeks ago, it became known that Stockholm and Helsinki intended to submit an application to join NATO, and Turkey did not express a clear refusal during that period, but perhaps its position was clearly different.

When Erdogan spoke on the phone with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, a month ago, Erdogan referred to the issue of Finland's membership in NATO and hinted at his support for the move.

confusion

Niinistö said last Sunday that the change in Turkey's position had "confused him".

During the meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO countries in the German capital Berlin on Sunday, the Turkish foreign minister came out unanimously in the alliance, and expressed his country's concerns about the inclusion of new members.

“To be specific, the representatives of these two countries (Finland and Sweden) had meetings with members of the PKK and the YPG,” Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

Sweden also provides weapons to these units.”

For his part, Erdogan's spokesman said that he does not close the door of "NATO" to the request of Finland and Sweden, and Turkey can drop its objections.

Sweden sent a delegation to Ankara to discuss ways to change the Turkish position.

Niinistö said he plans to make a new phone call with his Turkish counterpart.

It is possible that other Western leaders will join efforts to persuade Turkey to accept the admission of Helsinki and Stockholm to the alliance.

concessions

The best scenario, from NATO's point of view, is for the Turkish president to be satisfied just by being in the center of Western attention again, in light of the decline in his international presence.

Also, the issuance of some statements sympathetic to Ankara by both Stockholm and Helsinki, and the promise to confront any anti-Turkish activities on their soil, could allow the Turkish president to claim to his supporters at home to obtain important concessions from the Europeans.

Of course, the Turkish president wants a lot, namely modern weapons, from his NATO partners, and perhaps some financial aid.

But NATO countries that are seeking Erdogan's approval should wait a bit, because he is not in a position to hold out for long.

The internal situation in Turkey is not in his favor at all, in light of the decline in the price of the lira and the high rate of inflation, which makes Erdogan's position weaker than ever since he came to power nearly 20 years ago.

His popularity in recent opinion polls is waning, powerful labor unions are in turmoil, traditional opposition parties are on the rise, and new competitors are emerging.

With the Turkish presidential elections approaching one year from now, the Turkish president badly needs some victories.

meetings

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters: “To be specific, the representatives of these two countries (Finland and Sweden) had meetings with members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the People's Protection Units.

Sweden also provides weapons to these units.”

• Erdogan believes that Finland and Sweden harbor many activists of the Turkish Kurdish minority, some of whom belong to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Turkey considers a terrorist movement.


• The best scenario from NATO's point of view is for the Turkish president to feel satisfied just by being in the circle of Western attention again, in light of the decline in his international presence.

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