Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Türkiye News

The issue of Sweden’s membership in NATO is likely to be resolved within the framework of the Madrid Memorandum, a roadmap for the process of admission to the bloc of northern countries. This was announced  in the Turkish parliament, assuming that the negotiations between Ankara and Stockholm would be resumed, despite the current disagreements.

After the burning of the Koran in Sweden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned the prospect of its membership in the alliance, suspending negotiations. At the same time, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said that joining NATO is a matter of the country’s security.

Stockholm is already adopting laws that experts call a step towards Ankara. At the same time, the Russian Federation reacts with restraint to the entry of the northern countries into the alliance.

Ups and downs

The Turkish President continues to convince Sweden that its hopes of joining NATO are in vain. On February 1, Recep Tayyip Erdogan made two such statements. At a meeting of the Justice and Development Party faction headed by him, the leader said that Ankara would not approve of Sweden’s desire to join the NATO bloc. By evening, he slowed down a bit, noting that Turkey now only “does not look positively” at the application of this northern country.

In addition, Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly stressed that he could separately approve Finland’s entry into NATO and thereby “shock Sweden.”

Recall that Ankara was not happy with how Stockholm fulfills the points of the Madrid Memorandum. Turkey demanded from the northern country not only the recognition of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization, but also the extradition of its members. However, Sweden, in turn, stated that the memorandum with Turkey does not involve the extradition of the Kurds.

Finally, relations between Ankara and Stockholm cracked after an anti-Turkish rally near the country’s embassy in the Swedish capital.

On January 21, far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burned a Koran in front of the diplomatic mission. The action was tentatively approved by the Swedish authorities. On January 28, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström announced that the process of joining NATO had been suspended.

Nevertheless, the Turkish parliament admits that negotiations with the Swedes will still be resumed.

— I think that the issue of Sweden’s membership in NATO will be resolved one way or another within the framework of the big Madrid Memorandum, which was agreed upon last year. I think there are ups and downs on the negotiating track.

However, I think that the dialogue will be resumed and Sweden will take some measures to calm the anger of the Turkish side,” said Ozturk Yilmaz, member of the country’s parliament, head of the Innovation Party.

The Madrid Memorandum is an agreement between Turkey, Finland and Sweden reached during negotiations in Spain on July 28, 2022. The document is a roadmap for the process of admitting the Nordic countries to NATO and lifting Ankara’s objections.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and NATO -- Turkey Political News - Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and NATO_Turkey Political News

Turkish political scientist Kerim Has explained the rhetoric of the Turkish president by the fact that he uses the issue of Sweden and Finland joining NATO as part of the election campaign.

“In my opinion, Erdogan is raising the stakes ahead of the Turkish elections in order to get support from Washington. He wants Turkey to continue to be recognized as a strategic ally. There are many risks before the elections for Erdogan, the opposition parties are getting stronger. Erdogan is not 100% sure of the election results,” the expert believes.

According to the political scientist, if Erdogan wins the presidential elections in May this year, he will approve the process of Sweden and Finland joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Also, the expert community admits that NATO partners can also force Ankara to turn to Stockholm after the scandal.

  • It is noteworthy that attempts are also being made to put pressure on Turkey itself. For example, in the United States they started talking about the possibility of its exclusion from NATO. It must be understood that for Washington, the entry of Sweden and Finland into the alliance is a strategic issue, Natalia Plevako, head of the Center for Nordic Countries at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences emphasized.

Recently, the American Carnegie Endowment published an article with the headline: “Sweden’s problem with NATO is also Turkey’s problem with NATO.” At the same time, according to one of the theses in this material, the behavior of Ankara, which prevents Stockholm from joining the alliance, calls into question its reliability as a partner.

By the way, in the Turkish Vatan party, they even believe that Ankara should leave the alliance, since this does not meet the interests of the country’s security.

  • Every step of the Turkish government, bringing closer the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO, harms Turkey itself. NATO’s eastward expansion increases pressure and threats on Turkey, Russia, Syria, Iran and all of Asia. The conditions put forward by Sweden’s ruling Justice and Development Party do not take into account the real threat from NATO and the United States. Even if Sweden returns a certain number of terrorists, the alliance’s systemic hostility towards Ankara will not go away, the press service of the party said.

Step forward

Against this background, Stolkolm is in no hurry to give up. Back in late January, Sweden’s chief negotiator for NATO membership, Oskar Steenstrom, said he intended to resume dialogue with Ankara in the coming days.

However, as it became known, this week the diplomat, together with national security adviser Henrik Landerholm, went to Washington. There they plan to meet with US Presidential Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to discuss the country’s accession to the bloc.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, in turn, called on all politicians to make efforts to reduce tension against the backdrop of anti-Turkish actions in the country, which cast doubt on its membership in NATO. The head of government noted that individuals who carry out such actions “become useful idiots for the forces that wish Sweden harm in the current security situation.”

The country’s Foreign Ministry did not comment on the possible resumption of negotiations with Ankara. The department only recalled the words of the head of the department, Tobias Bilstrom, that “joining the alliance is a security issue.”

It should be noted that Stockholm did not offer an official apology for the action near the Turkish embassy. Tobias Bilstrom said on February 1 that Sweden is not going to restrict freedom of expression at the request of Ankara.

At the same time, Sweden is still trying to soften the position of the Turks in a different way. On February 2, the country’s government introduced a new law banning activities that support terrorist organizations. It is noteworthy that it should come into force on June 1 – immediately after the presidential elections in Turkey.

  • Stockholm is trying to speed up the process of joining the alliance. The government is in a state of extreme uncertainty due to the current situation. It is indicative that Ulf Kristersson called an urgent meeting with representatives of the opposition parties for consultations,” Natalia Plevako noted.

The expert added that with the help of the new law, Stockholm is trying to take steps towards Ankara.

“But at the same time, the Swedish authorities continue negotiations with the leadership of NATO, repeating the thesis that joining the alliance is a matter of the country’s security,” the expert added.

She believes that in the end, Sweden is likely to join the North Atlantic Alliance, although the process will be quite long and complicated.

Recall that of all NATO members, only Ankara and Budapest have not yet ratified the applications of Sweden and Finland. However, on January 31, the head of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, Peter Szijjártó, promised that at the parliamentary session in February, the entry of Finland and Sweden into the bloc would be on the agenda.

“Am I rushing the Turks? No. I usually do not rush other countries in matters that do not concern us. Although in the current world politics it is customary to teach each other, to express what should be done by someone,” the minister added.

It should be noted that Moscow reacts with restraint to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. As President Vladimir Putin explained, Russia does not have the same problems with these countries as with Ukraine, and the membership of these states in the bloc does not pose an immediate threat.

At the same time, the Ministry of Defense has a plan for measures to ensure the country’s security against the background of the expansion of the alliance, Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, noted earlier.