Both Finland and Sweden, as well as the vast majority of NATO allies, would like these countries to formally join the alliance at the July 11 NATO summit .
Turkey claims both countries, especially Sweden, are harboring militants from the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been declared a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and several European countries. Erdogan is pushing for the extradition of these individuals, but Sweden has made it clear that this will not happen.
Turkey is not the only country blocking this move: Hungary has also not ratified the accession of the Scandinavian countries. However, now the priority is to attract Turkey to the side of the Alliance.
Unfortunately for the pro-NATO group, Western officials are increasingly pessimistic that Turkey will budge. NATO diplomats are divided over whether Turkey will budge ahead of the July summit. Central to both groups is this year’s Turkish elections, which are seen as the biggest political threat Erdogan has faced in recent years.
Gonul Tol, a participant in the “Turkey” program of the Institute of the Middle East, noted that “the image of a strong man who achieves results for the Turkish people, created by Erdogan, has been destroyed.”
“There’s a lot of anti-Western and anti-Kurdish sentiment in Turkey right now. It’s a good topic for him… and a dramatic reversal will only make him look weaker,” Tol states.
The expert believes that there are other reasons why Erdogan does not want to upset Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Russia has been an economic lifeline for Turkey after other countries imposed sanctions for their activities in Syria, military cooperation with Russia and other hostile activities. Without Russian money, Erdogan could not raise salaries or provide financial support to students. Now he is promising a massive reconstruction after the earthquake. So Russia is still an attractive partner for Erdogan,” explains Tol.
Like many Western officials, Tol believes that Turkey’s claims that Sweden and Finland are harboring terrorists provide Erdogan with the perfect cover to stay out of political inconvenience on the NATO issue.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey’s negotiations with Sweden and Finland on joining NATO will be held on March 9, DS reported.
Source : dsnews.ua