Entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO: Turkey raises the stakes

Le président turc, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, dispose d'un droit de veto, comme chacun des trente membres de l'Otan, sur l'adhésion de la Suède et de la Finlande.

A mode of operation unanimously unites an organization but allows each of its members to carry out a quasi-blackmail. This is what NATO is rediscovering with Turkey’s veto on the entry of Finland and Sweden, in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This spectacular reversal of two neutral and pacifist countries announced at the beginning of May was blocked immediately by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The latter will negotiate a possible lifting of his veto this Tuesday in Madrid with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö and the Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson. Ankara notably accuses Stockholm of harboring militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers to be terrorists. He also denounces the presence in Sweden of supporters of the preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom he suspects of having orchestrated the coup attempt of July 2016. He demands the extradition of some of them, which Stockholm does not probably won’t accept.

American fighter planes

Turkey also demands the lifting of arms export blockades imposed on it by Stockholm and Helsinki since Turkish military intervention in northern Syria in October 2019.

These demands are intended to prove its power to harm its partners and to obtain concessions in the delivery of arms. “The philosophy of the Turks is never to let a good crisis pass without political benefit. They invoke Kurdish terrorism but it is only a pretext, their goal being a lifting of the sanctions which weigh on their defense industry and the modernization of their military aviation”, underlines a NATO negotiator who cannot be quoted.

Turkey wants to get American F-16 fighter jets. It had also paid three years ago $1.4 billion for an order of F-35 stealth fighter planes, which were never delivered; the order had been frozen by Washington after Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-missile system, perceived as a threat to the F-35. “In the end, we know where the solution will come from: from the United States when they decide to get involved in signing an agreement with Turkey,” said Iro Särkkä, an expert in defense issues at the University of Helsinki. .

Transactional logic

It is unlikely that the United States will give in and reintegrate Turkey into the F-35 program, underlines the same negotiator, but they could agree to modernize its F-16s. Turkey has 250 and is moved by the purchase of French Rafale planes by Greece, a historic rival with which relations are strained again in the Aegean Sea . The Biden administration recently asked Congress to approve the modernization of the Turkish F-16 fleet, as well as the sale of additional fighters (Ankara would like 40).

“The Turks are constantly in a transactional logic, they do not see NATO as the keystone of their security and they do not share its values, but they are pragmatic and need NATO to compensate for their vulnerabilities in the face of Russia. So they’re going to up the ante. But with 29 States against them, they will not be able to hold on alone for very long, ”predicts the negotiator.

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