Erdogan Agrees to NATO Membership for Sweden
July 10, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In a statement on Monday afternoon, July 10, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has agreed to forward Sweden’s accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly ASAP and ensure ratification. This is an historic step which makes all NATO Allies stronger & safer.” Stoltenberg claimed that the decision by Erdogan was prompted by a meeting set up by the NATO Secretary-General between Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Erdogan has claimed that his opposition to NATO membership for Sweden for the past year was rooted in his concern that Sweden hadn’t done enough to help crack down on pro-Kurdish “terrorist organizations.” Analysts have suggested that the Kurdish issue was essential for scoring domestic political points for the recently concluded presidential election in Türkiye, but also gave Erdogan leverage in negotiations with NATO nations on matters such as advanced fighter jets from the United States, or possible EU membership. In fact, earlier on Monday as he was leaving for Vilnius, Erdogan told reporters:
“Türkiye has been waiting at the door of the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all of the NATO member countries are now members of the European Union.... Come and open the way for Türkiye’s membership in the European Union. When you pave the way for Türkiye, we’ll pave the way for Sweden as we did for Finland.”
Stoltenberg has since denied that Erdogan’s agreement for Swedish acceptance to NATO was tied to any quid pro quo on EU membership for Türkiye.
Sputnik International reported that a source told the news agency that there were “no specific deadlines” on the Turkish parliament’s approval of Sweden’s membership application: “The process will take some time, first there will be discussions in the commission, then it will be presented to the General Assembly. I can’t give you specific dates right now.”
As of this writing, there has been no official statement from the Russian government. However, it should be recalled the statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin from a year ago in Turkmenistan in the weeks following the statement of intent by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Speaking at a June 29, 2022 press conference in Ashgabat after the 6th Caspian Summit, posted to the Kremlin website, Putin responded to a media question:
“On the other hand, as regards Sweden and Finland. We do not have such problems with Sweden and Finland, which, unfortunately, we have with Ukraine. We have no territorial issues, no disputes, we have nothing to worry about in terms of Finland’s or Sweden’s membership in NATO. Well, they want—please.
“Only they should clearly and clearly understand that before there were no threats to them, now if we deploy military contingents and infrastructure there, we will have to respond in a mirror manner and create the same threats for the territories from which threats are created to us.
“And the thesis that we fought against NATO expansion at the expense of Ukraine, and now we got it by accepting Sweden and Finland, does not have any serious grounds, because for us the membership of Finland and Sweden in NATO is not at all what Ukraine’s membership in NATO. These are completely different things. They understand this very well, they simply throw this thesis into public opinion in order to show: aha, here Russia did not want it, but now it has received it twice. ...
“Ukraine is completely different. From Ukraine they began to make anti-Russia, a springboard in order to try to somehow shake Russia itself, they began to fight Russian culture, the Russian language, they began to persecute people who feel they are part of the Russian world. There is nothing similar in Finland and Sweden, this is a completely different situation,”