Why is Turkey still standing in the way of Sweden joining NATO?

Bloomberg reports that when NATO invited Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance in June 2022, NATO leaders hailed it as a “historic decision”.

But the above plan has not yet come to fruition due to objections from Turkey.

1. Turkey wants toì?

Turkey has asked Sweden to extradite suspected Kurdish members and coup plotters wanted by Ankara, and has prevented groups of supporters of the Kurdish movement in Sweden from publicly showing allegiance. .

2. What will happen next?

In December 2022, the Swedish Supreme Court rejected the extradition of a man accused by Turkey of being involved in a coup plot against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. Ankara called the ruling. This is “a very negative development”.

In January of this year, tensions flared again after protesters in Stockholm – Sweden displayed an upside-down effigy of Erdogan. This was followed by the burning of a Koran translation near the Turkish embassy, ​​angering Ankara and other Muslim countries. Erdogan later stated that Turkey would not support Sweden’s entry into NATO.

Sweden insists it has done all it can to honor the June 2022 agreement. However, Sweden’s free speech laws make it difficult for the government to prevent public action in support of the Kurds.

3. What is Turkey’s problem with the Kurds?

The PKK has been battling Turkish forces at home and abroad since the mid-1980s as it sought an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkish territory. Ankara is particularly focused on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey considers the YPG a security threat due to its ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

4. Why is Sweden involved?

Sweden has long sought to promote human rights and respect for ethnic minorities abroad. The country is open to refugees, including about 100,000 Kurds currently living there. Some of the Kurds in Sweden are members of the Turkish opposition wanted by Erdogan’s government. Mr. Erdogan has called Sweden “where terrorist organizations nest”.

Why is Turkey still standing in the way of Sweden joining NATO?  - Photo 1.

The entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO will bring many benefits to this bloc. Photo: Bloomberg

5. Sweden’s role in NATO?

Sweden – and Finland – has conducted military exercises with NATO, and is increasingly sharing more intelligence with the bloc.

If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the security of the region around the Baltic Sea can be ensured as well as the protection of NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Finland and Sweden also have strong, well-equipped, NATO-compatible militaries that double the length of NATO’s border with Russia and allow the alliance to improve its capabilities. western flank surveillance.

6. Is there an opportunity to resolve the dispute?

Erdogan is about to enter the presidential and parliamentary elections in May. Maintaining a tough stance against Sweden could bolster his support. Therefore, it is difficult to find a way out now.

The direction of Finland?

Finland’s foreign minister left open the possibility of joining NATO alone without Sweden. But that has the potential to jeopardize Finland’s supply routes and NATO’s security. Leaving Sweden behind would also cause some of the military cooperation the two countries have developed over the years to be cancelled. The official position remains that Finland and Sweden will join NATO together.

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