Did Turkey Just Derail Sweden’s NATO Bid?

Earlier this month Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson admitted that Turkey’s demands for Sweden to become a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member are too much. 

The Swedish public has grown increasingly hostile towards the idea of its leaders kowtowing to Turkey when it comes to compromising its legal principles. According to a Bloomberg report, 80% of Swedes polled believe its leaders should not make legal concessions to the Turks. 

Kristersson said the following about Turkey’s security demands for Sweden to join NATO: “They also say that they want things that we cannot and do not want to give them.”

Since Sweden and Finland announced their efforts to join NATO back in May, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkey has been the principal “veto” country, citing how Finland and Sweden have allegedly provided sanctuary to Kurdish militants and organizations that it characterizes as terrorist entities. 

Turkey has called for the two countries to make significant changes, which includes a request that Sweden extradite Kurdish individuals who are wanted in Turkey for terrorist and other illegal acts. In addition, Turkish authorities have demanded that Sweden curtail Kurdish groups’ ability to protest, which would violate its democratic and free speech laws.

At this juncture, Prime Minister Kristersson admitted that “we cannot meet all of Turkey’s demands.”

He repeated the talking point in a January 8, 2023 press conference while standing next to NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg:

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Turkey was asking too much in return for ending its obstruction of NATO membership for Sweden and neighboring Finland,  speaking Sunday at a security conference attended by NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

“Turkey has confirmed that we have done what we said we would do. But it also says that it wants things that we can’t, that we don’t want to give,” stated PM Kristersson, continuing, “We are convinced that Turkey will make a decision, we just don’t know when.”Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge noted how Sweden has a large Kurdish minority which impacts the way it handles Kurdish issues: 

As for the Kurdish issue, Sweden in particular has long accepted an influx of Kurds from Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Over the past five years it’s been commonly estimated that Syrians (many of them Syrian Kurds hailing from border regions close to Turkey) make up about 9-10% of the total population of Sweden.

Turkey is in an interesting geopolitical position. While Turkey is a NATO member, it’s still an ethnonationalist/religious authoritarian state that sticks out like a sore thumb in this military alliance. It’s also a notorious geopolitical hedger that tries to play off the West against other Eurasian giants such as Russia.

As the world grows more multipolar, Turkey will continue to exercise its options on the world stage, which will have world powers on the edge of their seats as it makes unpredictable geopolitical moves. 

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