NewsWorldANALYSIS | Why is Turkey causing problems for...

ANALYSIS | Why is Turkey causing problems for Finland and Sweden in their NATO accession processes?

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Could violating the territory of Finland trigger a nuclear confrontation? 1:28 (CNN) — Just when it seemed that Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession was imminent, Turkey has caught its allies by surprise by putting spokes in the wheels. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he did not view the Nordic countries’ desire to join the alliance “positively”, accusing the two of being “like guest houses for terrorist organisations”. On Wednesday he told lawmakers from his party in Ankara that he hopes NATO members “understand, respect and support” Turkey’s security issues. Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday at the allies’ headquarters in Brussels, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision represents a setback for Moscow, as the war in Ukraine has triggered the kind of alliance expansion it invaded to prevent. However, the accession of new states requires the consensus of the current members, and that is where Ankara comes in. Turkey, which joined the alliance three years after its creation in 1949 and has the second largest army in the group, has said it will not support the bids unless its demands are met. What is the process to join NATO? 1:23 Erdogan accused the two countries of harboring members of the militant separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as PKK. This party seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been engaged in an armed struggle with that country for decades and has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The crisis has brought to the surface old Turkish grievances against Western nations and NATO allies, while giving Ankara an opportunity to use its position in the alliance to extract concessions. Turkey has complained about a lack of support it has received in its fight against Kurdish militants, which Ankara perceives as its main national security threat. He has accused Sweden of harboring his adversaries and providing support to Kurdish militants in northern Syria, whom Ankara sees as an extension of the PKK. Ankara also says the two nations have not responded to extradition requests, according to state media. The wanted individuals are accused of having ties to the PKK, as well as FETO, the group led by US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, which Turkey believes is behind the failed 2016 coup attempt (an allegation which Gulen denies). Finland and Sweden were optimistic on Tuesday about finding common ground with Turkey over its objections. Putin does not consider the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO to be a threat 2:16 Sweden’s Economy Minister, Mikael Damberg, declared on Monday to the public broadcaster SVT that his country is not “a friend of terrorism” and that it takes ” everything that has to do with terrorism very seriously.” “Of course, we will use diplomacy, clear up any possible uncertainties,” he said. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Saturday that her country, like the rest of the EU, considers the PKK a terrorist organization. The government has said it is ready to smooth over any obstacles in talks with Turkey. Ankara has also demanded Sweden and Finland drop the arms embargo imposed on Turkey in 2019 following its military offensive in northeast Syria. Turkey launched that operation against Kurdish-led YPG forces allied with the United States and other Western nations in their fight against ISIS. The offensive drew condemnation from the United States and the EU, and led several European countries to impose an arms embargo on Ankara. “We would not say yes to those who impose sanctions on Turkey to enter NATO,” Erdogan told reporters on Monday night. “Because then NATO would stop being a security organization and become a place where representatives of terrorist organizations are concentrated.” The president is no stranger to fiery rhetoric, especially at election time, when a boost on the home front could help at the polls. Turkey is going to elections next year and experts believe that the current state of the economy – record inflation and a currency that has lost almost half its value in the last year – will cost Erdogan at the polls. See how Finland prepares in case of Russian aggression 2:51 Analysts say that Turkey’s veto in NATO can be used as leverage not only against future members, but also against current ones. “It may not all be about Sweden and Finland,” Asli Aydintasbas, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in an article. “The president almost certainly sees this as an opportune moment to air his grievances about current NATO members, especially the Biden administration, which has kept the Turkish leader at arm’s length.” A key issue could be the Turkish president’s disappointment at not being able to establish a working relationship with US President Joe Biden, as he did with his predecessors, according to Aydintasbas. Erdogan complained to reporters last month that he and Biden did not have the kind of relationship he did with Presidents Trump and Obama. “Of course, there are some meetings from time to time, but they should have been more advanced,” he said. “My wish is that we can achieve it in the next process.” It is not the first time that Turkey has opposed the new members, Aydintasbas noted. “Erdogan is unlikely to have a specific political goal in mind, but he will certainly expect to be seduced, persuaded and eventually rewarded for his cooperation, as in the past,” Aydintasbas wrote on Monday, referring to previous reports. Turkish veto threats within NATO. While Turkey has security concerns that even NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said must be addressed, the look is far from flattering, with Turkey choosing to air its grievances and come across as a spoilsport at a time when alliance unity may never have been

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