Turkey may still ‘freeze’ NATO expansion – Erdogan — Analysis
Finland and Sweden must fulfill Ankara’s conditions before becoming members, President Erdogan warned
Recep Tayyip Turkey’s President warned Sweden and Finland Monday that Ankara could still threaten them “freeze” their membership in NATO if Helsinki and Stockholm fall short of last month’s agreement. The two Scandinavian countries had promised they would take specific steps in order to overcome Turkey’s objections.
“I want to reiterate once again that we will freeze the process if these countries do not take the necessary steps to fulfill our conditions,”Erdogan spoke to reporters. “Our stance on this issue is very clear. The rest is up to them.”
“Sweden in particular does not have a good image on this issue,”He concluded.
Ankara had stopped Helsinki and Stockholm from applying for NATO membership. This was until the end of June. The alliance was able to invite Sweden and Finland to the summit in Spain through a trilateral memorandum that it signed in Madrid. It was requested that the Scandinavian countries address Turkish demands, ending an embargo against arms sales to Ankara. The agreement also called on them to crackdown on those and organisations Turkey has designated terrorists. Among them are Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activists who sought asylum in Sweden and Finland, as well as followers of the exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen.
Finland and Sweden remained neutral during Cold War but requested NATO membership in May 18. They did so because of security concerns following the Russian military operations in Ukraine. Before any of the 30 NATO member countries can become effective, their parliaments must approve them.
Erdogan’s conditions had threatened to derail NATO’s plans to formally invite the duo at the June 28-30 summit in Madrid, but the last-minute deal – reportedly struck over coffee – found the formula to move the process forward.
USA will work with Finland and Sweden to make sure that Turkey is protected. “this accession process and ratification process around the world is as swift and efficient as it can possibly be,”Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department, stated Monday that both sides are welcome in NATO. “as soon as possible.”
Erdogan’s warning comes after the US House of Representatives adopted the text of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that required additional certifications before Turkey could buy more F-16 fighter jets. Last month, US President Joe Biden stated that F-16 sales were not illegal. “quid pro quo” for Ankara agreeing to NATO’s Scandinavian expansion, and said he could get congressional approval for it.