An article written by The Academic this week regarding the failure of Putin’s foreign policy, described the likelihood of pushing more countries into the arms of NATO, but this has been met with some unexpected roadblocks. While both Finland and Sweden have now formally applied to be a member of the alliance, one existing member has produced complaints against their joining. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed in a public interview that he is “not of a favorable opinion,” regarding the expansion. His opinions seem to be a solitary view in the alliance, although he does hold the power to directly veto the expansion due to NATO’s expansion laws blocking the possibility outright.
The question as to why he would not want to add two more contributors to his own country’s protection net, comes from both countries support of the Kurds. The Kurdish people have had major breakaway movements within Turkey in what seems to be forever, and the government considers these groups to be terrorists, in particular the PKK. In terms of Sweden and Finland, Erdoğan has expressed that these two countries have and do support terrorists operating in Turkey and therefore are the enemies of the nation. Further than this he referenced that allowing Greece to rejoin NATO after its years of instability “a mistake,” and one that should be prevented from happening again. This stance has come somewhat as a shock, noting that Turkey has relied on NATO in the past as protection against the Soviet Union, and now against Russian influence. Erdoğan himself has been caught between his own style of government and western ideals for some time now, so this continuous back and forth is set to continue.
Erdoğan’s back and forth on the issue has left many issues and questions open, as he did not directly say that they will veto the expansion, but he has also not said how Turkey will vote. Due to the fact that the vote has to be unanimous to pass, should Turkey decide not to approve the vote, it will die on the floor and neither country will be allowed to join, even in a 29-1 vote. Today the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is set to meet with Turkish officials on the matter and hopefully come to some resolution. Erdoğan and Turkey continue to be at odds with western countries over a variety of issues that seem to be pulling the country in the direction of the emerging powers and their current allies, so this is not the first-time diplomacy has had to be used to convince Turkey. Although past conflicts have been resolved, this may be an attempt to garner weapons, in particular fighter jets, from the United States in return for Turkey to vote yes. Although overtures on both sides to come to a reasonable conclusion have begun, it is unlikely a real answer to what will happen will come to light until the actual vote begins.