Turkey Makes Deal With Sweden, Finland to Drop Opposition to Their NATO Applications

29.06.2022 08:36

Turkey Makes Deal With Sweden, Finland to Drop Opposition to Their NATO Applications

After weeks of political maneuvering, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan got everything he wanted from Sweden and Finland and announced on Tuesday he was dropping his opposition to their admission into the NATO alliance.

The decision was reached following an agreement between the three nations on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday. According to a NATO news release, a trilateral memorandum was signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries – Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu of Türkiye, Pekka Haavisto of Finland, and Ann Linde of Sweden – in the presence of the three nations’ national leaders, as well as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Sweden and Finland were prodded into applying to join the alliance in May, following the launching of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, but Erdogan objected, saying the two Northern European nations support Kurdish groups designated by Ankara as terrorists organizations.

“Finland has constantly taken these concerns seriously,” a statement by the office of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Tuesday said. “Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As a NATO member, Finland will commit fully to the counterterrorism documents and policies of NATO.”

Ankara has sparred repeatedly with other NATO powers over the years, from its quarrel with Greece over Cyprus to its operations in northern Syria against Kurdish groups allied with the United States, another NATO ally, and its purchasing of Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, for which Washington ended Turkey’s participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Erdogan has played both sides of the dispute between Russia and Ukraine, selling Kiev drones while refusing to give in to Western demands to sanction Moscow.
Russia’s special operation was undertaken in large part to neutralize Ukraine as a springboard for a NATO attack against Russia, with strikes targeting NATO weapons depots in the country, and to end Ukraine’s bid to become a NATO member. Moscow has long warned that the alliance’s steady expansion eastward was a violation of its agreements made at the end of the Cold War and constituted a threat to Russian security.

Although Stockholm and Helsinki have long affiliated with NATO in various capacities, their formal entry into the mutual-defense pact will add 830 miles of border between NATO and Russia - more than double its present 754 miles.