Turkey Continues to Drag Its Heels on NATO Membership for Finland and Sweden

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A top Turkish aide stated that Turkey’s President Recept Tayyip Erdogan wouldn’t seek a vote to confirm NATO membership for Sweden or Finland in the wake of the May elections.

Sweden and Finland, however, have very liberal asylum policies. They shelter Kurdish separatists whom Turkey considers terrorists.

Although Sweden has passed a constitutional amendment to combat terrorist acts, Erdogan’s aide Ibrahim Kalin insists that the law needs to be changed.

Middle East Eye:

Last year, Sweden and Finland came to an agreement with Turkey in order to override Ankara’s objections regarding their Nato bids. These agreements were reached in May and require the approval of all 30 Nato member nations.

This would allow the Swedish government to clamp down on terrorist organizations such as the Kurdistan Workers Party. The attacks on civilian targets have led to the US, EU, and Turkey declaring the PKK a terrorist organization.

According to Kalin, Swedish officials said to their Turkish counterparts that they didn’t realize how deep the PKK could penetrate the Swedish political system through recruitment and funding efforts.

Kalin acts as Mr. Erdogan’s spokesperson.

He said, “The opposition would ask many questions, and we cannot lose political capital as we enter elections within the next three to six months. ”

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is in a close election race for the first time. It creates a peaceful political environment, with the opposition parties joining Erdogan to protest Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO.

The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Erdogan first threatened to veto Sweden’s and Finland’s entrance to NATO last year, citing what he said were ties to Kurdish militant groups including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union. Members of the PKK’s Syrian branch are part of a U.S.-led military coalition fighting the Islamic State, and the Kurdish group also has some support among Kurdish communities in Europe.

Russia is upset by the provocative move to add Finland to NATO. Sweden could be a great addition.

But is this really the time to expand NATO? And what of Ukraine? Russia will fight just to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. Unnecessarily poking the Russian bear could prove costly in the end.