North expansion: Kristersson with Erdogan: No green light for joining NATO

north extension
Kristersson on Erdogan: No green light for joining NATO

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson inspect a military honor guard

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson inspect a military honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace. photo

© Burhan Ozbilici/AP/dpa

Arms exports and the fight against terrorism: That’s what Turkey is after before it wants to let Sweden and Finland into NATO. Sweden’s new head of government is trying to remove the blockade – but that’s not enough.

Turkey makes the way to one Nato– Membership of Sweden and Finland still not free. He hopes for more progress at the next Swedish-Finnish-Turkish meeting in Stockholm at the end of November, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a first meeting with the new Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Ankara.

Sweden wants to join NATO for its own security – it is only right if it does everything to protect it Turkey to help with their safety.

Kristersson pledged that his country will fully implement a memorandum signed at the end of June, including on the fight against terrorism. “Sweden will honor all the commitments it made to Turkey to counter the terrorist threat – both prior to NATO membership and as a future ally,” he said at a press conference alongside Erdogan.

Applied for NATO membership in mid-May

In response to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in mid-May. So far, the two northernmost states of the EU have been close partners in the defense alliance, but not full members who could count on NATO help in the event of an attack. For the period of the accession process, however, the two countries have been given security guarantees by several parties.

In general, the two countries have received plenty of tailwind from NATO. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeatedly campaigned for northern expansion, and 28 of the 30 members have already ratified the Swedish and Finnish proposals. Only Turkey and Hungary are still missing. In northern Europe, it is expected that Hungary will be ready with ratification in December and that this should not be subject to any conditions.

With Turkey, on the other hand, things remain difficult. She is concerned with arms exports and, above all, with alleged Swedish and Finnish support for the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG, which Turkey sees as an offshoot of the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK and thus as a “terrorist organization”. The EU, which includes Sweden and Finland, also regards the PKK as a terrorist organization – but not the YPG and its political arm, the PYD.

Kristersson emphasized that Sweden regards the PKK as a terrorist organization. “Sweden understands that Turkey has been involved in a long and bloody fight against PKK terrorism,” he said. “We know that Turkey is one of the NATO allies that has been hit hardest by terrorism.”

Turkey complains about lack of progress on extradition requests

Such messages are not enough for Turkey. There are positive developments, but there are still many steps to be taken, according to the Turkish parliament speaker Mustafa Sentop, according to the state news agency Anadolu, after his own meeting with Kristersson. For example, there was no progress on the extradition request.

At the end of June, the dispute seemed to be settled with an agreement between the three countries at the NATO summit in Madrid. However, Turkey continues to complain that agreements made at the time have not yet been fulfilled, especially by Sweden, including the extradition of more than 70 people. Observers also suspect other intentions behind the Turkish blockade, such as concessions from the USA with regard to fighter jet deliveries. According to surveys, Erdogan’s approval among the population also increased after the announced NATO blockade – and elections are to be held in Turkey in June 2023.

Sweden had recently made a clear move towards Ankara, approved the export of war material to the NATO member for the first time since 2019 and distanced itself from the YPG and PYD. On Monday evening, the Swedish government also announced that it wanted to support a voluntary NATO contribution fund to combat terrorism with ten million Swedish crowns (around 920,000 euros). The purpose of this was to strengthen NATO’s role in the international fight against terrorism, the Defense Ministry said in Stockholm.


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