No decision in NATO Council: Turkey blocks membership talks with Sweden and Finland – Politics

Turkey carries out its threats and initially blocks the process of admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO. As the German press agency has learned from alliance circles, it was not possible on Wednesday in the NATO Council, as planned, to take the decision to start accession talks. Turkey has therefore raised security concerns.

Sweden and Finland formally requested to join the defense alliance shortly before the NATO Council meeting on Wednesday morning. Ambassadors from both countries handed over the relevant documents to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels. He spoke of a “historic step”. The reason for the Nordic countries’ desire to join is security concerns related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For decades, the two states have resolutely pursued a policy of military non-alignment.

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It was in fact expected that the NATO Council would decide to start membership talks immediately after the submission of candidatures. According to reports from alliance circles, however, Turkey made it clear during the meeting that it could not agree at this stage.

A spokesman for the alliance declined to comment on the talks at the NATO Council. He only stressed that General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg was determined to find a quick solution for Finland and Sweden. “Both countries are our closest partners and NATO membership would enhance Euro-Atlantic security,” he said.

Erdogan sets conditions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has meanwhile made it clear publicly that he will make NATO approval for Sweden and Finland conditional on his country’s approach to security issues. For Turkey, NATO enlargement goes hand in hand with respecting its sensitivities, he said in a speech to his conservative Islamist party, the AKP, in Ankara.

Sweden and Finland wanted to continue supporting “terrorist organisations”, but at the same time Turkey’s approval for NATO membership, Erdogan criticized. “That’s an understatement, that’s a contradiction.” Sweden specifically accused Erdogan of refusing to extradite 30 “terrorists”. “NATO is a security association, a security organization. In this regard, we cannot say yes to making this security body dangerous,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan describes supporters of the banned PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, which is also considered a terrorist organization in the United States and Europe, as “terrorists”. Turkey also regards the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria as a terrorist organization – for the United States, on the other hand, the YPG in Syria is an ally.

It is unclear how Turkey can be prevented from vetoing Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership. Diplomats say in addition to statements by the two northerners on the fight against terrorism, arms deals could also play a role. Ankara’s government wants to buy F-16 fighter jets from the United States – but a possible deal has recently been the subject of political controversy in Washington.

[Lesen Sie auch: Erdogan und Orban – warum die beiden Autokraten die Nato und die EU blockieren (T+)]

Finland and Sweden were initially convinced to find a solution with Turkey. “A number of diplomatic efforts are being launched,” Sweden’s foreign ministry said when asked by dpa.

Biden announces aid for Finland and Sweden

It was hoped on Wednesday that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s talks in New York could advance the dispute. Cavusoglu wanted to meet there, among others, his American colleague Antony Blinken. “Diplomacy continues,” said a diplomat in Brussels. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson are expected in Washington on Thursday, where they want to talk with US President Joe Biden about planned NATO membership.

The US president on Thursday pledged to support Finland and Sweden as their bids for NATO membership progress. “We will be vigilant against any threat to common security,” he said in a statement. Joining the two states would benefit the whole alliance.

Is there a one month deadlock?

If Turkey dropped its reservations about joining NATO, everything should happen very quickly. The so-called accession protocols could then be signed as early as June and the ratification procedures could start in the member states. Ideally, Finland and Sweden would then be members of NATO by the end of the year. However, if Ankara remained firm, the alliance would be powerless due to the principle of unanimity which applies to all decisions.

It is particularly unpleasant for NATO that Turkey – although it should agree to leave – could also block the admission process at several other points. For example, he could refuse to sign the accession protocols or, even later, to ratify them.

On Wednesday, Secretary General Stoltenberg called on Allies to take into account each other’s security interests and form a united front. “We are determined to resolve all issues and reach conclusions quickly,” he said. In principle, the allies agree that this historic moment should be used for northward expansion. (AFP, Reuters)

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