Turkey Relents On Finland's NATO Bid, Allows Alliance To Extend Proximity To Russia

Turkey Relents On Finland's NATO Bid, Allows Alliance To Extend Proximity To Russia

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 18, 2023 11:49 AM +05:30 IST
Turkey Relents On Finland's NATO Bid, Allows Alliance To Extend Proximity To RussiaPresident of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo Courtesy: Getty Images)

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in Ankara on Friday that Finland's protocol will be approved in parliament due to its sensitive and promising approach in addressing the security concerns of Turkey.

Erdogan approved Finland's NATO bid but opposed Sweden's, resulting in separate applications after 10 months of dispute over Sweden's failure to address Turkey's concerns.

Sauli Niinisto, President of Finland, expressed the belief that the entry of his country into NATO would be incomplete without Sweden. He hoped that any remaining obstacles would be resolved by the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius in July.

Sweden's foreign minister acknowledged they were prepared for an undesired development.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden, who had previously refrained from alliance, applied together to join NATO to enhance security in the Nordic region.

Majority of NATO members supported their request, however, Turkey and Hungary, who have ties with Russia, demanded some concessions due to ongoing political disagreements with the applicants.

Turkey's allegations that Sweden supports Kurdish militants, along with accusations of sheltering members of an Islamist network blamed for a failed coup in 2016, are causing concern for NATO.

The country has been criticised for its human rights violations against Kurdish and other dissidents.

NATO's Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, stated that any military threat against Sweden or Finland would lead to the alliance's reaction. Turkey's President, Erdogan, assured Stoltenberg of Turkey's willingness to hold talks with Sweden in good faith.

Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, urged Turkey to proceed with Sweden's accession protocols and pushed Hungary to act on Finland and Sweden's applications.

He stated that Sweden and Finland, being strong partners and sharing NATO values, would reinforce the alliance and enhance European security.

NATO officials state that Finland and Sweden have already been granted membership in the military alliance, with only Turkey and Hungary left to ratify. Approval for Finland's request is expected on 27 March by Hungary's parliament, while Sweden's bid is still pending without a set date.

In January, Turkey, having the second-biggest army in NATO, halted negotiations with Sweden after a far-right activist set the Quran on fire.

Stockholm claims to have fulfilled its end of a contract made with Turkey at NATO’s Madrid summit in 2020, which involves passing an anti-terrorism law in Parliament expected soon.

Ahead of May's challenging elections, Erdogan's firm approach appeals to nationalist voters. However, the government's reaction to an earthquake and cost of living crisis has led to a decrease in ruling party support to unprecedented levels.

Sweden's prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, has expressed his hope that Turkey will soon ratify their accession after the election.

According to Aslı Aydıntasbas, a Brookings Institution fellow, splitting Sweden and Finland's votes enables Turkey to prove it's not working for Russia and that it's not against enlargement in general.

Delays put a strain on NATO ties and US link the delivery of F-16 jets to Turkey's approval of Nordic countries' applications.

Aydıntasbas mentioned that Turkey wants assurance on getting the F-16s when it approves Finland and Sweden's applications.

However, public outrage towards Sweden makes it difficult for Turkey to retract.

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