Wednesday October 05, 2022

NATO membership bid and Turkey´s bargaining strategy

Published : 14 Jun 2022, 12:27

Updated : 14 Jun 2022, 14:09

  From editor’s desk

Finland's ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen and his Swedish counterpart Axel Wernhoff submitted the two application letters together to NATO headquarters in Brussels in the morning. Phoro: Finnish government by Juha Roininen.

It is about one month since Finland and Sweden together submitted their applications for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on May 16.

Although the NATO repeatedly urged Finland and Sweden to take their decision positively and submit membership applications without delay assuring that the issue will be handled quickly, opposition from its ally Turkey created a stalemate situation resulting uncertainty of the accession of the two Nordic countries in the next NATO meeting scheduled for end of this month.

It is very clear that raising other issues by Turkey related to Finland and Sweden´s membership applications is nothing but creating an obstacle as the concerns raised by Turkey could be discussed separately. They brought the issues when Finland was going to finalize legal formalities to make the application.

Unfortunately, linking sporadic issues to the membership process is being indulged by NATO itself, which may complicate the process further as NATO secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday during his visit to Finland emphasised to address the ´legitimate´ Turkish concerns.

“So I remain in close contact with you, Sauli, and your colleagues, with Sweden, and with our Ally Türkiye on the way ahead. My staff also remain in close dialogue with officials from all three countries, to address the legitimate Turkish concerns, and to move forward on your accession to our Alliance,” said the NATO Chief.

President Sauli Niinistö said that he was surprised by Turkey's opposition to the bid because Finland had received positive messages from Turkey regarding possible membership application months before the concrete decision.

Referring to Turkish demands, Niinistö said, “I do not see any major differences in the way Finland deals with Turkey´s terrorist issue, if you compare to other existing NATO countries,” said the president, adding,” So that makes us too difficult to understand that we are pointed out.”

As Turkey suddenly changed its position, it is very much logical that Turkey´s demands should not be linked to the membership process and the issues will be discussed separately.

We hope NATO should focus on this point and try to make Turkey understand that linking other issues to the membership bid will complicate the process as many countries already approved Finland´s application by this time.

We still trust in NATO´s assurance and the application has been submitted despite the announcement made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on 13 May where he said that it was not possible for Turkey to support the possible NATO membership applications by Finland and Sweden.

Following Turkey´s opposition, Finland and Sweden also held meetings with Turkish authorities and tried to settle the issues but there was no significant progress as Turkey did not come forward positively and trying to hold Finland and Sweden responsible for sheltering terrorist group. It is not unlikely that raising such demands at this point could be an intention of Turkey to bargain with the peaceful Nordic countries taking the chance of the situation.

As Stoltenberg also said that Finland and Sweden have done their duties properly and it is the responsibility of NATO now to complete the accession process, we hope that NATO will able to convince its allies in this regard.

We expect that NATO members including Turkey will show respect to the will of Finnish people and the government and settle down the membership issue in the upcoming NATO meeting in this month.