Turkey on Wednesday blocked an initial effort by NATO to quickly advance Finland and Sweden’s application to join the military alliance. The Financial Times reported that the country halted the vote as NATO ambassadors met to begin accession talks between the two countries.
The Turkish government said this weekend that it would be open to discussing Finland and Sweden joining NATO, even though the news initially did not sit well with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We closely follow the events around Sweden and Finland, but we cannot see it positively,” Erdogan acknowledged to the media during an intervention on Friday.
And it is that the president does not forgive that both countries have welcomed members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PPK). “The vast majority of the Turkish people are opposed to the accession of those countries, which support the PKK, a terrorist organization,” said Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister. “But these are issues that we need to address with our allies in NATO,” he added.
Turkey prevented an early procedural vote to proceed with the applications. This delay raised questions about whether NATO will be able to complete the first stage of both countries’ applications in one to two weeks.
The position of this country is key because as some journalists from the Spanish newspaper El Mundo explain, the entry of new members into the Alliance requires the approval by consensus of the 30 member countries. “This means that the Turkish opposition can hinder an eventual NATO enlargement process at a crucial moment,” reads the Spanish newspaper.
However, New York Times journalists explain that Turkey’s control over applications is not believed to be final, “but rather an effort for member states to seriously address their concerns,” the US newspaper read.
Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkey Research Program at the Washington Institute, told the Times that “Erdogan was probably looking for concessions in the month leading up to the NATO summit in June, and looking for a move from Sweden on its stance regarding Kurdish groups”, the expert commented.