There’s only one way that a nation can join NATO. All existing NATO nations must agree. This means that if Finland and Sweden ever want to become a part of NATO to get protection from Russia, every country currently a member must give a “yes.”
One country has been saying “no” quite loudly – Turkey.
What could Turkey possibly hold against the nations of Finland and Sweden? Well, it doesn’t help matters that Turkey is a known ally of Russia.
And Turkey has a long list of reasons why they won’t be saying “yes” to allowing the two neighboring nations of Russia into NATO any time in the near future.
It’s not as though Turkey can be kicked out. They have been a part of NATO since 1952. They also have the second-largest military after the U.S., so if there were ever a serious threat in the world, we would need to depend on what they have to offer.
During a news conference, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on opposing the countries from joining. Specifically, he has mentioned that Sweden and Finland have applied sanctions on Turkey. Specifically, he’s referencing that Sweden has suspended weapon sales to Turkey (since 2019) as a result of military activities in Syria.
Sweden has plans to send senior officials along with senior officials from Finland to Turkey so that Erdogan’s objections can be discussed at greater length.
Erdogan has stated, “Will they come to persuade us? Excuse us, but they shouldn’t bother.” Erdogan has also gone as far as stating that it’s not okay for those two countries to join NATO because it is a “place where representatives of terrorist organizations are concentrated.”
Finland’s Foreign Ministry recently spoke with CNBC to explain that they implement the same terrorism sanctions against people and entities as the UN and EU. Considering that the EU and Turkey have spoken regularly about counterterrorism issues, there should be no problem.
However, there’s something that Finland’s Foreign Ministry isn’t saying…
Both Sweden and Finland have provided refuge to PKK members, a Kurdish militant separatist organization. Turkey has identified PKK as a terrorist organization, specifically because of attacks that have been conducted in the country.
Additionally, Sweden and Finland have held meetings and provided support for YPG, the Syrian branch of PKK. The YPG has fought against Turkish forces.
While Sweden and Finland get the thumbs up from virtually every other nation of the 30 nations that are a part of NATO, they’re not sitting well with Turkey.
Some analysts believe that the opposition that Turkey is showing is a way to gain concessions. So, unless Sweden and Finland plan on making some SERIOUS promises to Turkey, Erdogan isn’t interested in maintaining any kind of dialogue. He’ll simply say “no” knowing that’s all it takes to prevent the two nations from getting into NATO.
At some point, we’ll see just how friendly Turkey is to Russia. They’ll either partake in their responsibilities as a NATO member or they won’t.
As Timothy Ash, an emerging markets strategist with Bluebay Asset Management explains, “Other NATO members will be furious with Turkey given the now clear and present danger to Europe presented by Putin in Ukraine.”
If Turkey doesn’t allow Finland and Sweden to join, which will help to put Russia in its place, Ash says, “Turkey will be seen an unreliable partner. This will leave even more bad blood/faith between the two sides – gone will be any remnants of a Turkish EU accession bid.”
This means that Turkey has to make a decision. Will they swallow their pride, or will they hug tighter to their alliance with Russia?