Turkey Will Perhaps Consider Finland and Sweden’s NATO Bids Separately

During a news conference on January 30, 2023, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Turkey may consider Finland’s and Sweden’s applications to NATO on a separate basis.

“We are not against NATO’s expansion,” he said during the news conference in Ankara. “And there are no fundamental objections from us against Finland or Sweden, but they need to take into account our concerns. It is true that, we are contemplating the possibility of considering their applications separately. Our president said that with regard to Sweden Turkey may have a different stance,” per a quote that the Haberturk TV channel was able to get from Cavusoglu.

Thus far, there hasn’t been an official decision on separating the countries’ applications. 

“If it is made, then we will consider them separately. I believe that it would be fair to divide countries into problematic and less problematic ones. But our goal is not to drive a wedge between these states. Our position is based on an objective assessment of how our requests and concerns are satisfied,” Cavusoglu continued.

On January 29, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan revealed that Turkey might treat Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership bids differently. He highlighted that “if necessary, Ankara can send a different message regarding Finland,” which will have Sweden “shocked.” However, Erdogan stressed that Finland “should not repeat the mistakes” that Sweden has made.

In late January, controversy kicked off when Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the right-wing Hard Line party publicly burned the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy. In the speech, Paludan criticized Erodgan and showed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. Erdogan used this and other anti-Turkish protests in Sweden as a pretext to block Sweden’s NATO membership application. 

So far, Sweden’s NATO bid is suspended. The Turkish parliament must pass legislation to ensure that Sweden receives the necessary approval for its NATO bid. 

NATO is no saint on the geopolitical stage. However, its actions here are unintentionally commendable. NATO expansion is a bad idea given how it will make the US potentially obligated to protect European countries far away from the US, when the country has far more pressing domestic priorities and geopolitical problems to tackle in the Western Hemisphere. 

If the US is serious about promoting its own security interests and pursuing actual national defense, it needs to stop NATO expansion and ultimately withdraw from the military alliance.

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