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Is Turkey Destined to get Kicked Out of NATO?

F-35 stealth fighter. Could Turkey rejoin the program if it gives up the S-400 to Ukraine?

Will Turkey Actually Exit NATO or be Kicked Out First? – This week, Turkey postponed what was to be a critical meeting with Sweden and Finland that was meant to resolve issues over the Nordic nations’ bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan also warned that Sweden should not expect Turkey to back its membership bid following a protest in Stockholm in which a copy of the Quran was burned.

Both Sweden and Finland – historically neutral nations – sought membership in the international alliance following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last February, but NATO member Turkey still needs to approve their bids.

“Sweden should not expect support from us for NATO,” Erdogan told reporters after the protest, which had been approved by Swedish officials. However, the burning of the sacred Islamic book was not approved. Earlier this month Kurdish protesters had also hung the Turkish leader in effigy.

“It is clear that those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country’s embassy can no longer expect any benevolence from us regarding their application,” Erdogan added.

Finland has begun to float a solo entry if Turkey won’t budge on Sweden’s membership.

Ankara is the final hurdle that Stockholm and Helsinki need to clear for NATO membership, but questions are now being asked whether it is possible the two Scandinavian nations could soon be part of the alliance while Turkey may not be. Some Turkish officials had suggested it could leave the alliance, which it officially joined on February 18, 1952.  Protocol regarding its membership was signed in October 1951.

Turkey and regional rival Greece were the first additions to the alliance.

Rifts Growing

Ankara canceled Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson’s upcoming visit to Turkey, and this week, Turkey’s deputy leader of the Patriotic Party (Vatan Partisi) Ethem Sancak suggested that developments may prompt his country to take even more dramatic steps.

“NATO is making us do so with its provocations. They have been seeking to contrast us to our neighbor Turkey. Turkey will leave NATO in five to six months,” Sancak told the Aydinlik newspaper. “They [NATO] have been trying to get us caught in the Middle East crossfire. Finally, you can see campaigns against the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands.”

The minister also claimed that upwards of 80 percent of the Turkish population is against being in the military alliance – and suggested Turkey’s Patriotic party has launched a campaign to exit NATO entirely, and to shut down all military bases hosting U.S. troops.

Tensions between Washington and Ankara have been simmering for years but increased after Turkey was ejected from the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program after it went ahead with an acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 “Triumf” air defense system. NATO officials have argued the two platforms are not compatible and Turkey operating both could compromise the security of the fifth-generation jet fighter.

More recently, talks for Turkey to acquire a number of advanced F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, along with modernization kits for its current fleet of fighter planes, have stalled. U.S. lawmakers in Congress have been wary of Turkey’s hostile rhetoric against Athens, while Ankara’s hold up of supporting Swedish and Finnish NATO membership isn’t going to help resolve matters.

No nation has completely exited NATO, nor has any been expelled. Turkey could be the first – it is now a matter of whether it exits the alliance or is formally kicked out. But it increasingly appears that Turkey’s days as a member are numbered.

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Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. Whodunnit

    January 25, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    Is it any wonder that Turkey’s membership of the EU never really got off the ground. Whilst governments naturally have their own nations interests at the forefront, Erdogan most definitely is not a team player and will quite happily pursue an outcome which suits his own personal agenda. An obvious negative to Turkey leaving NATO is that he may well then look eastwards.

  2. Rob

    January 25, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    Turkey will not be kicked out. The NATO needs Turkey (as an entrance Black Sea, stepping stone into the Middle East).

    Should NATO get fed up with Erdogan there different options. It is easier to form a temporary Baltic Sea Alliance or a Nordic Treaty Organization. Finland and Sweden could enter it without any reservation by Turkey (or Hungary).

  3. Jacksonian Libertarian

    January 25, 2023 at 3:13 pm

    The Islamic Dictatorship of Turkey is unworthy of membership in an organization of Democracies. No Western troop should ever be forced to fight for Erdogan’s hold on power.

  4. Dr. Scooter Van Neuter

    January 25, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Erdogan continues to be a bad actor and his hardcore Islamist theocracy doesn’t meld with the rest of NATO. With allies like this, who needs enemies?

  5. DragonWolf

    January 25, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    Good riddance to the Turks. Erdogan has been trying to re-create the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps NATO should also consider inviting Moldova, Armenia and Georgia. They would certainly be team players and not hold the alliance hostage to get it’s way at other’s expense.

  6. D'bag McGee and the Asses of Fire

    January 26, 2023 at 8:21 am

    Turkey is returning to form as everyone is in light of the slow-motion destruction of globalism.

    The Turks are the near east version of France. They were traditionally the dominant force in their region and they will return to this.

    By definition, this is not an inherently pro-Western stance.

    Having spent some time there, particularly in eastern Turkey in 2020/2021, I can say the Turks simply do not care what anyone else thinks. They are into their own thing. And historically this makes sense as they’ve ruled access to the Black Sea and the Arab world for 3000 years.

    If I were an Arab kleptocracy, I would be very worried. Constantinople is coming. And no one else will be sorry to see them gone.

    As for long term membership in NATO, it is hard to say.

    The world is returning to the age of empires and colonialism. The Americans are done spending their money and the lives of their young people on an ungrateful world.

    The coming technological apartheid will be even more interesting, but that is a topic for another post.

  7. Paul

    January 26, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    Whether Turkey is kicked out or leaves of its own accord, the sooner the better for the West.

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