Green light for Finland and amber for Sweden. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced this Friday that he endorses the first country’s entry into NATO, while accession negotiations with Sweden remain open.
The Turkish president made these statements at a press conference at the presidential palace in Ankara, along with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö. Erdogan has expressed his satisfaction with the concrete measures taken by Finland, in response to Turkey’s security concerns.
He has also said that the endorsement of Sweden’s entry will respond to the same scale, for which he has reproached this country for not having responded to his request to extradite “120 terrorists” with pending cases in Turkey. A thinly veiled reference to the propaganda and financing activities on Swedish soil of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a large number of fugitives from the Fethullah Gülen brotherhood, convicted in Turkey of coup. The Swedish government hides behind the fact that it is the judges who must rule on each extradition request.
After North Macedonia
Finland will become NATO’s 31st member this spring
The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted the two Nordic countries to break with their tradition of neutrality last May, requesting NATO membership. His candidacy was accepted in June at the Alliance summit in Madrid, after Sweden and Finland overcame Erdogan’s reservations, with the commitment to study his extradition requests.
Since then, virtually all member countries have ratified both accessions, with the notable exception of Turkey and Hungary, which maintain better relations with Moscow and are close to neutrality in the war in Ukraine. NATO membership requires the approval of all member countries.
Erdogan thus opens the ratification process for Finland’s candidacy, which must be concluded before the dissolution of the Turkish Parliament, within a month, due to the holding of new elections. The approval does not offer any doubt, since the opposition is still more favorable than the government bloc to the expansion of the military alliance.
Hungary follows suit
In the wake of Erdogan, Viktor Orbán asks his parliament to ratify the accession of Finland although not yet that of Sweden
Turkey is not the only NATO member to clear its position on the entry of the two Nordic candidates this Friday. Hungary, the other country that resisted ratifying its incorporation into the Alliance, will submit Finland’s candidacy to a parliamentary vote on March 27. This has been confirmed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Not so that of Sweden, at the moment. Shortly before, the head of the parliamentary group of his party, Fidesz, had advanced it on social networks. Given the parliamentary composition, the result can only be satisfactory for Helsinki.
The NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has welcomed Turkey’s willingness to ratify Finland’s accession and has declared himself in favor of the same thing happening with Sweden “as soon as possible”. Although he has qualified that it is secondary “that they enter at exactly the same time”.
At first, it seemed that the new conservative Swedish prime minister was more in tune with Erdogan than his Social Democratic predecessor, who had submitted the accession candidacy. However, both the extreme right and the Kurdish exile in Sweden (from Iraq, Iran and Syria, as well as Turkey) appear to have conspired to slow down or boycott entry.
To the offensive marches against Turkey and its president, we must add the provocative burning of a Koran and the display of Islamophobic caricatures in front of the Turkish embassy in Istanbul last January. The Turkish government then decided to suspend the negotiations, stunned by the impressive police device in Stockholm so that an ultra without parliamentary representation could cloud bilateral relations without being bothered.
These negotiations were resumed last week by lower-rank technicians. In reality, the Swedish candidacy will only be considered again by the Turkish government that leaves the polls on May 14. In any case, Stockholm will continue to be subjected to much more pressure than Helsinki, for whom it was practically enough to lift the veto it had on arms sales to Turkey.
So that Finland – after the sung endorsement of the parliaments of Turkey and Hungary – will become the 31st member of NATO this spring. The first enlargement since the entry of North Macedonia, exactly three years ago. The Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, has expressed his wish that at the NATO summit in Vilnius, on July 11 and 12, Sweden can already accompany his country as a full member.
It should be said that the Atlantic expansion to the very borders of Russia was one of Vladimir Putin’s main arguments to justify his invasion of Ukraine. In short, that line of friction will have an additional 1,340 kilometers.