After long negotiations, Turkey finally decided to refuse Sweden’s bid to enter NATO following a serious diplomatic incident. What will happen now?
The ship has sailed for Sweden and Finland, or at least that’s what Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes for. The latest diplomatic incident between the European countries could have serious repercussions for the whole Western world.
Yesterday on Sunday, a Swedish far-right politician burned a copy of the Quran, the Islamic sacred text. Though the move was immediately condemned by the Swedish government, it broke the already fragile ties between Sweden and Turkey.
“Relations with Turkey are very important for Sweden and we look forward to continuing the dialogue on common security and defense issues at a later date,” Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said.
But Erdogan would hear none of it, saying on Monday that Sweden “should not expect” Turkey’s approval for its NATO bid.
Sweden and Finland have been trying to enter NATO since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Historically neutral, the two Scandinavian countries sought more security against the Russian behemoth on the East.
To get into NATO, however, a country needs the approval of every existing member. Turkey, a member of the alliance since 1952 and its second biggest army, threatened to veto Swedish and Finnish entrance unless conditions were met.
The already difficult negotiations came to a grinding halt, possibly closing the door to the Western alliance for Sweden.
Why Turkey won’t let Sweden inside NATO
One of the conditions required by Erdogan for Sweden and Finland were the extradition of Turkish “terrorists” back in their home-country. These alleged terrorists are part of the Kurdish ethnicity, who is heavily oppressed by the Turkish regime.
Sweden and Finland always said that they’d never allow Erdogan such an extradition, because it would mean ending the lives involved. But the Turkish president insisted.
There are multiple reasons why Erdogan is allowed to act like a bully. As said above, Turkey is the second strongest NATO member (after the United States) and its army is not a force to reckon with.
NATO needs Turkish soldiers, and Erdogan knows it.
Furthermore, Erdogan is in a special relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The twocasually engage in friendly conversations and are diplomatically close in many international dossiers.
Not only does NATO need Turkish intelligence to counter Putin, but Erdogan is also signaling that, were NATO to boot him out, he’d switch sides to Moscow.
With Erdogan’s staunch refusal to let Sweden in, the ball is in the park of Washington. The United States, de facto leader of NATO, needs to decide: do they need more Sweden or Turkey?
For Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the answer is obvious.