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Current Affairs

Turkey opposes Sweden and Finland joining NATO

Date: 21 May 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous


NATO membership aspiration of Sweden and Finland received a blow after Turkish President’s statement opposing their entry into the group.



Finland and Sweden recently applied to become members of NATO, giving up their decades of neutral status amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine.



  • The Turkish president is opposing their membership due to their alleged support of Kurdish militants and other groups that threaten Turkey’s national security.

  • The comment by Erdogan has indicated that the path to Swedish and Finnish membership is expected to be tough.

  • The alliance makes its decisions by consensus. If Turkey vetoes, the alliance will have to make efforts to bring consensus.


Issues with membership

  • Turkey believes that Sweden and Finland have supported the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, the leftist extremist group DHKP-C and followers of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

  • Many Kurdish members have found asylum in Sweden and Finland.  Sweden and Finland have refused to extradite 33 people wanted by Turkey.

  • Turkey is also angered by restrictions on sales of military equipment to it. This was imposed by EU countries, including Finland and Sweden.

  • Turkey is concerned about European allies turning a blind eye to its security concerns, which prompted it to enter Syria.


Turkey’s demands

  • Turkey aims to enter a deal with Sweden and Finland under which it will support their NATO bid in return for crack down on the PKK and other groups.

  • The western bloc considers Syrian Kurdish group as their allies in the fight against Islamic State.

  • Turkey is likely to demand for its reinduction into the US-led F-35 fighter jet program. It wants to buy new F-16 fighter jets and upgrade its existing fleet.


Opinion on NATO expansion

Turkey has been in favour of expanding NATO as it believes that it enhances European security. It also supported Ukraine and Georgia’s entry into NATO.


Implication of Turkey’s move

  • Turkey’s blocking of Sweden and Finland’s bid will undermine its own status as a reliable partner for the western bloc.

  • It may be seen by western bloc as a Russian mole, hampering expansion of the group in the current tense situation.

  • There appears to be a belief that Turkey is trying to balance both the side by giving military support to Ukraine and political support to Russia.