Turkey this week cast a wrench into the works by opposing applications by Sweden and Finland to join NATO. Turkey is claiming security concerns.
Turkey Opposes Sweden & Finland NATO Bid
While Turkey’s president has insisted that he will continue to oppose Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, the military alliance’s chief in charge, Jens Stoltenberg, says he expects the standoff to be resolved soon.
Since NATO makes all decisions by means of a consensus, Turkey’s decision is crucial within the context of the Nordic countries’ bid to join the alliance.
NATO has 30 member countries, and each has the power to refuse a bid for membership.
Turkey Will Stick To “No”
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently told Turkish youths that the country will continue its present path.
Erdogan is opposing the bids due to alleged security reasons. Turkey is accusing Finland and Sweden of being in support of “outlawed groups” deemed as threats by the Turkish government.
Turkey’s grievances are mostly directed at Sweden, which is perceived as being in support of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party. This is an armed group based in Syria, and a group whose strife with Turkey has led to tens of thousands of deaths since the early 1980s.
But Stoltenberg, who spoke during a visit to Copenhagen on Thursday, said Turkey’s concerns will be addressed. He said especially when dealing with a significant ally such as Turkey, the only way to deal with concerns is to not make it a gamble like those enjoyed at an online gambling casino, but rather to have a discussion and find common ground on which to move forward.
US Voices Full Support
Finland and Sweden’s request to join NATO has been met with full support from US President Joe Biden. The US president met with the leaders of Sweden and Finland on Thursday in Washington.
Biden said the US views terrorism in a very serious light, and that to this end, the country will remain committed to Turkey’s security.
The two countries applied to join NATO on Wednesday, after which the organization’s initial meeting failed to reach a consensus. Erdogan has in the meantime colored Sweden as a country that is focused on terror and friendly to terror. He insisted that countries with links to terrorist organizations should not be permitted to join the military alliance.
Turkey Using Bargaining
While Sweden has denied allegations of terrorist support, the spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling party, Omer Celic, claimed on Thursday that the country has proof that Swedish weapons are landing in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Celic also took a swipe at US and France politics for allegedly giving to groups that kill Turkish citizens.
Turkey is furthermore accusing Finland and Sweden of providing a haven to followers of the US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The cleric is being blamed by the Turkish government for a 2016 military coup attempt.
Turkey has on several occasions in the past lamented the lack of support from Western nations and NATO in its fight with Kurdish extremists. The country is clearly hoping to use the joining consensus as a bargaining tool to secure more support and concessions.
Turkey joined NATO three years after its establishment in 1949. Today, Turkey has the military alliance’s second-largest army.
Both Sweden and Finland seem optimistic that the issues with Turkey can be resolved.