It should have been a historic moment, but it fell through.

On Wednesday morning at eight in the morning, the ambassadors of Finland and Sweden handed in their countries' applications for membership personally to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

After that, the North Atlantic Council met to decide on the further procedure: 29 countries were in favor of starting accession negotiations, one country was against - Turkey.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was serious about his threat to block the process.

The Turkish president is demanding security guarantees and the lifting of export restrictions against his country before he agrees.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

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Diplomacy was not well prepared for this.

On Sunday, when the foreign ministers met in Berlin, the federal government said it would do well to ignore Turkey's demands.

Ankara will not stop the process and will only raise its objections in the ratification process.

One could counteract this by speeding up ratification and thus building up pressure.

Germany wanted to be the first country to issue its certificate and deposit it in Washington.

And so the federal cabinet approved the signing of the accession protocol just one hour after the application had been received.

That seemed involuntarily funny. Because as long as Ankara is in the way, there will be no protocol, not even negotiations about it.

You can no longer ignore Erdogan

Now there is great anger about Erdogan because he has split the alliance for everyone to see.

The search for a solution has begun behind the scenes.

It is not entirely clear what exactly Ankara is demanding.

Should only Sweden lift its arms embargo, which it imposed in 2019 after Turkey invaded northern Syria - or is it also about the allies, such as Germany or America?

Is it enough for Erdogan if the governments in Helsinki and Stockholm condemn the PKK as a terrorist organization once a day - or does he demand the extradition of politicians from the Kurdish-Syrian People's Militia YPG?

One thing is clear: Erdogan can no longer be ignored.

Especially since the alliance has set out to keep the "grey area" in which Finland and Sweden are not yet covered by the alliance's collective security guarantee as small as possible.

At NATO, many, actually all, were surprised by Erdogan's veto threats.

However, it is not the first time that the Turkish president has obstructed and endangered the cohesion of the alliance.

Turkey has slipped more and more into a special role, which has led to questions: does it still want to be part of the alliance?

Or does Erdogan not rather see Putin as a preferred ally?

To understand this, you have to go back a little further in history.

Because the turning point in the relationship between the alliance and its southeastern partner can be precisely determined: It was the night of July 15th to 16th, 2016.

Parts of the Turkish military tried to overthrow Erdogan and his government.

The putschists thundered over Ankara in low-flying fighter jets, firing rockets at the parliament and the presidential palace.

The master of the house was surprised by the coup at his vacation spot in Marmaris.

He escaped just in time before a special unit could arrest him.

While he was flying back to Istanbul in his presidential plane, he was almost intercepted by two of the putschists' F-16 fighter planes.

The pilot turned off the lights on board, changed the flight code and claimed over the radio that it was an airliner.

Maybe that was the only thing that saved Erdogan's life.

When he landed in Istanbul early in the morning and spoke to a cheering crowd, it was clear

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