Sun. Oct 1st, 2023

Analysis by Robert Stone

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Turkey to ratify the membership applications of Finland and Sweden to the defence alliance. This follows Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s recent statement that NATO members should ratify the applications “without further delay”. The bids by both countries to join NATO were made after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and have been ratified by all allies except Hungary and Turkey. Turkey is believed to be the main obstacle as President Tayyip Erdogan has expressed willingness to ratify Finland’s application but not Sweden’s, citing concerns about the presence of members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Sweden.

During a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Stoltenberg urged Turkey to act on the ratification of both bids. He described the burning of the Koran during a protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm by the leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line as a “disgraceful act” and praised the Swedish government for its strong stance against the protest. He went on to say that Finland and Sweden have implemented policies that recognize Turkey’s concerns, and it is time for the ratification process to be completed.

Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey’s position that it would evaluate the membership applications separately. While he acknowledged that Sweden had amended its legislation on terrorism in line with Turkey’s demands, he insisted that the changes should be fully implemented.

Stoltenberg met with President Erdogan in Ankara to discuss the fight against terrorism and other issues. He confirmed that the fight against terrorism would be high on the agenda at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.

Turkey’s reluctance to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership application highlights the country’s fraught relationship with the PKK. The PKK has been fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority since the 1980s and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The conflict has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, including civilians, and has created a complex political and security challenge for Turkey.

In conclusion, Stoltenberg’s call for Turkey to ratify Finland and Sweden’s membership to NATO highlights the ongoing political and security tensions within the region. While Sweden’s efforts to address Turkey’s concerns on terrorism have been recognized, Turkey’s reluctance to ratify both bids highlights the need for further discussions and negotiations. The forthcoming NATO summit in Vilnius will be an important platform for dialogue and cooperation among member states in addressing these issues.

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author.
They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the AMeAR|News, R2iNTEL or its members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *