Turkey Claims that Finland and Sweden Have Not Done Enough to Obtain NATO Membership

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently said that Turkey is not willing to approve Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership applications in the near future. Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO member nations that have not approved of  the Nordic nations’ applications into the military alliance. 

At  a press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Cavusoglu stated “both countries are expressing that they are committed to the memorandum, but what matters is the execution.” The Turkish foreign minister continued “right now we cannot say that all those commitments have been lived up [to] by those countries.”

Stoltenberg took exception with the Turkish foreign minister’s remarks, stressing that “Sweden and Finland have delivered. It is time to welcome Finland and Sweden as full members of NATO.” 

Back during a NATO summit in June, Finland, Sweden, and Turkey came to a trilateral agreement where Turkey would let the two Nordic states join the alliance. In order for a country to join NATO, their application must be approved by all other members of the military alliance. 

According to Kyle Anzalone of The Libertarian Institute, the controversy surrounding Finland’s and Sweden’s row with Turkey is largely due to Turkey’s hardline policies towards its Kurdish population. In turn, Finland and Sweden have provided refuge to several Kurdish groups, some which Turkish authorities consider to be terrorist organizations. 

One part of the trilateral agreement consisted of the two NATO aspirants ending their arms embargo against Turkey, which both Nordic nations have complied with so far.

Turkey insists that the Nordic nations continue complying with the agreement, which calls on them to extradite several Kurdish nationals to Turkey. 

Per Cavusoglu, the NATO application delays have largely been caused by Sweden. Nevertheless, the two countries’ NATO applications are connected. Turkey indicated it won’t approve their membership application until both countries are complying with the agreement. 

NATO expansion has been a point of contention with Russia over the last few decades. While Russia is uncomfortable with the potential addition of Finland and Sweden into NATO, what worries Russian authorities most is the installation of nuclear and other strategic weapons on their soil. 

The Kremlin has said it does not object to Finland and Sweden joining the North Atlantic alliance. However, Moscow threatened to deploy more weapons to the Baltic region if either country accepted the stationing of strategic weapons on their territory.

Turkey is no saint, but it has turned into an unsung hero in this latest case of NATO expansion. The world does not need any more geopolitical instability at this critical moment in history. Hopefully, this NATO expansion project is put on ice. And it may rely on the most unlikely of actors such as Hungary and Turkey to capsize this project.

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