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Turkey Wants “Concrete Steps” to Change Terms of Finland/Sweden NATO Membership

Turkey F-35
Image Credit: Lockheed Martin.

Last week, a senior Turkish official insisted that “concrete steps” must be taken to address Ankara’s concerns about Finland and Sweden being accepted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.

Ibrahim Kalin said after a meeting with Finnish and Swedish officials that the country’s government made it “very clear” that if Turkey’s security concerns are not met with “concrete steps  in a certain timeline,” then the negotiations will not progress.

Before Turkey’s intervention, the process of Finland and Sweden joining NATO seemed simple. The two countries submit their formal applications and the process of negotiations, ensuring that the countries understand their obligations, and ultimately welcoming them into the treaty could have taken only two weeks. Even if Turkey’s objections are actively discussed and measures are taken to negate those concerns, however, the process could now take significantly longer.

Here’s Why Turkey Is Concerned

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already blocked an attempt by NATO to fast-track the applications for Finland and NATO, claiming that their acceptance into the organization would make NATO a “place where representatives of terrorist organizations are concentrated.”

Erdogan was referring to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Marxist separatist group n Turkey that has engaged in fighting against the Turkish government since the 1980s. The group is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, Australia, Canada, European Union, and Turkey. Sweden also considers the organization to be a terrorist group, designating it as such before any other country back in 1984.

However, Turkey claims that Sweden has supported members of the organization on an individual level and even provided protection for terrorists. The accusations have been denied repeatedly by Swedish government officials

As for Finland, Turkey’s objection to the country joining NATO appears to derive from the fact that Sweden and Finland are close allies with similar foreign policy.

The grievance likely also extends beyond the contested accusations, however. Sweden and Finland joined the European Union in banning sales of weapons to Turkey in 2019 over Turkey’s military action against the PKK.

Turkish officials have not specified what those “concrete steps” must include, but the negotiations may not be quick. Turkey confirmed its opposition to the countries joining NATO two weeks ago already, and as a member of the NATO alliance since 1952, its opinion matters.

Get ready for weeks of negotiations that could potentially result in significant concessions to Turkey – depending on how eager Finland and Sweden are to join the military alliance.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Him

    May 30, 2022 at 8:39 am

    As with any human relationships, before the final breakdown years later, there would have been early warning signs hinting at the person’s character, as a prediction of how they would behave under pressure.

    The West’s delusion is that dictators like Putin, Saddam and Erdogan will keep their maniac cruelty to within their country’s borders – but that they will behave themselves in international relations.

    I don’t think so.

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