In recent days, representatives of Turkey, Sweden, and Finland held talks in Madrid. Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalym noted that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg initiated the talks between the three countries, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan supported the initiative.
However, the Turkish politician first insisted that Turkey would not change its previous position and would not retract its words. According to Turkey, Sweden and Finland can join the alliance only after Turkey’s conditions are met. Turkey asked Scandinavian countries to extradite to Turkey prisoners of war who are considered terrorists. The countries refused, so there were reports that Turkey began to think about leaving NATO. This case is not unusual, as Turkey has considered leaving NATO several times.
Later the Office of the Finnish President stated that Turkey would support Finland’s bid. Finnish and Turkish presidents Sauli Niinistö and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson attended the meeting in Madrid. As a result, the leaders signed a trilateral memorandum in which Turkey agreed to support the Nordic countries in joining NATO. The sides indicated that in the next two days, concrete steps for the countries’ accession to the alliance would be agreed upon, but that the decision was now “imminent.” On the Turkish side, the document was signed by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
In addition to the memorandum, the embargo on defense industry products will be lifted and cooperation in this area will be expanded. A structured cooperation mechanism will also be established for intelligence exchange in the fight against terrorism, and Finland and Sweden will be supported to the greatest extent possible in EU security mechanisms.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the signing of the trilateral memorandum and said Finland and Sweden had agreed to cooperate with Turkey to ensure its security. Stoltenberg even echoed Turkey’s concerns about terrorism. Turkey’s presidential office said Finnish and Swedish counterterrorism legislation would be amended.
The two Scandinavian countries have also pledged not to support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Fethullah Gulen’s religious organization, Erdogan’s office said. These organizations are now considered terrorist organizations in Sweden and Finland. A pleasant bonus for Turkey was the conditions imposed by NATO. Turkey put up several conditions for its vote in favor of admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO. These included the lifting of restrictions for the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, return of the F-35 to the pilot training program, and lifting of restrictions on arms transfers. The office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey got “what it wanted” from both Nordic countries.
Turkey’s agreement for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance would likely speed up the application process. According to Stoltenberg, this would be the fastest entry into the military bloc in history. NATO is gathering new allies and even making concessions to Turkey.
It is unlikely that NATO membership will bring real security to Finland and Sweden, but the moral security of the countries will be ensured. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, previously noted that the membership of the Nordic countries in NATO will not threaten Russia. This is because these countries have previously carried out exercises with NATO member states, and some weapons of the countries were also presented to NATO. In this situation, Turkey has made a classic foreign policy move – to gain maximum benefit for itself, trying to balance between Russia and the West.
On June 30, Russian President Putin commented on the issues:
“We do not have such problems with Sweden and Finland, which, unfortunately, we have with Ukraine. We have no territorial issues and disputes. We have nothing to worry about in terms of Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO. They want to join NATO – please. Only they should clearly imagine that there were no threats to them before, but if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in a mirror manner.”
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Sweden and Finland Almost in NATO But Turkey Set Conditions
- Double Standards Haunt US And Europe In NATO Dispute With Turkey