Bloomberg on condition of anonymity spoke He exchanged views with three senior Turkish officials about what their governments want to achieve by threatening to block Finland and Sweden’s NATO memberships.
Ankara is pressing any new NATO candidate to acknowledge their concerns about Kurdish militias both inside Turkey and in Syria and Iraq.
The authors of the material noted that for Ankara, the Kurdistan issue was “the main source of tension within the alliance.” Although all NATO members consider the PKK a terrorist organization, many countries have supported and even armed the Syrian branch of the PKK in the fight against ISIS (a banned organization in Russia).
“Turkey demands that Sweden and Finland publicly condemn not only the PKK but also its affiliates before they are allowed to join the bloc. Turkish officials said that recognizing the PKK as a terrorist organization is not enough: Scandinavian rights holders must do more to suppress PKK supporters, whom they say are active in their country.
Authorities also demand that Ankara, along with a number of other European countries, “end arms export restrictions to Turkey after its invasion of Syria in 2019” from Stockholm and Helsinki.
Although Turkey’s arms trade with Finland and Sweden is negligible and is not seeking significant defense purchases, Bloomberg sources said Ankara “would not accept an expanded military alliance with countries that block arms deals.”
The authors of the article stressed that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has made this clear and that arms restrictions are “against the spirit” of the alliance.
Agency sources also noted that Turkey does not want to repeat its past mistakes. For example, the country endorsed the return of Greece to NATO in the 1980s after the 1974 Cyprus conflict. Later, however, Athens and its Cypriot allies became key obstacles to Turkey’s EU membership bid, rejecting a UN vote on the plan to unify Cyprus, and embroiled in ongoing territorial disputes with Ankara over parts of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
“After learning this lesson, officials said that it would be unreasonable to expect Turkey to change course and ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership unless disputes were resolved and the Nordic countries showed public solidarity with Turkey against Kurdish groups,” the article states.
Agency sources said Turkey wants to re-engage in the F-35 war program from which it was excluded after purchasing S-400 missile defense systems from Russia.
In addition, Ankara wants the United States to lift the sanctions imposed on Turkey for its possession of the S-400 missiles.
But Turkish officials speaking to Bloomberg dismissed the notion that Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO had anything to do with Turkey’s ties to Russia or President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Turkey is seeking a middle ground in the war in Ukraine to balance its ties both with Moscow, which is critical for the protection of Turkish troops stationed in Syria, and with Kyiv, where Ankara supplies armed drones. The authors of the article concluded.
Finland and Sweden in NATO
After the start of Russia’s military special operation in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden announced their intention to relinquish their neutral status and join the North Atlantic Alliance. On 18 May, the ambassadors of the two countries applied to NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.
On May 16, however, Erdogan said Turkey could not say yes to Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership.
“Then NATO will not be a security organization, it will be a place where there will be many representatives of terrorists. We can’t say yes, they shouldn’t be offended,” he said.
According to him, “Sweden is a terror hotspot, there are PKK terrorists in parliament.” Therefore, even if Stockholm and Helsinki make anti-terrorism statements, Ankara will not believe them.
According to the Turkish leadership, the two Scandinavian countries are not extraditing Islamic preachers Fethullah Gülen (FETÖ) and members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party organization to Turkey.