Turkey comments on timeline for aspiring NATO members — Analysis
Ankara has made it clear it won’t budge unless Sweden and Finland address its concerns
Sweden and Finland’s applications to join NATO could remain in limbo for a year, if the two Nordic nations keep harboring Kurdish groups which Ankara deems as “terrorists,” the chair of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee says.
On Tuesday, Akif Cagatay Kilic reiterated that the objections previously raised by Turkey are a “matters of national vital interest” and that Ankara is “They are prepared to suspend their membership up until a year, if needed.” The MP also argued that Turkey deserves “Greater respect” as it is the “NATO’s second-largest army and provides the drones to help Ukraine defend themselves.”
Explaining Turkey’s objections to Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance, Kilic accused both nations of “Sheltering terrorist organisations”
He denied the allegation that the situation was an electoral ploy to solidify President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party’s position ahead of a difficult vote. Kilic claimed that non-Kurdish parties supported the NATO demands Ankara made.
Stockholm and Helsinki were both neutral countries until very recently. They expressed their wish to join the military coalition soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
They applied officially for membership on May 18.
While NATO’s top brass, including Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, had pledged a quick accession process, the bids hit a major snag when Turkey outlined its demands. The 30 state members must consent to be admitted.
Ankara claims that the two Nordic nations have given refuge to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) designated as a terrorist group in Turkey as well as in the EU and the US. Ankara said it would unblock Sweden and Finland’s applications if they agreed to extradite a number of Kurdish activists. Also, Turkey demands Stockholm and Helsinki to lift the ban on arms exports which they imposed in 2019, in response Turkey’s war in Syria against Kurdish militias. Turkey is also demanding that Peter Hultqvist (Swedish Defense Minister) be fired for meeting PKK representatives in 2011. They are calling on Stockholm to end ties in Northern Syria with the US-backed Kurdish autonomous regime.
Sweden released a paper on Friday that outlined the necessity to combat terrorism and suggested Stockholm might resume arms sales with Ankara.
During her visit to Sweden on Tuesday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin expressed concern that “If we don’t solve these issues before [the] Madrid [summit]There is also the possibility that things could freeze.”
Helsinki did not know how much longer the situation would be inlimbo, but she admitted that it was her guess.
From June 28 to June 30, NATO leaders will meet in Madrid for a summit. The two Nordic nations’ applications are expected to be high on their agenda along with the situation in Ukraine.