Sweden and Finland’s path to NATO membership is longer and more urgent than anyone could have imagined.
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Our Nordic neighbors thought they could use the fast track to get into NATO. For good reason. NATO has an open door for new candidate countries. Sweden and Finland meet all membership requirements. Prior to this, there were no objections from any of the 30 member states.
Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw this as an opportunity to obtain concessions and political gains.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. Erdogan has used the same tactics many times before and put NATO’s cooperation to the test.
And now NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is trying to disband them. He was in Finland this weekend and in Sweden on Monday. Intense diplomacy is underway, while hopes that Sweden and Finland will be given the green light before a NATO summit at the end of June are fading.
The goal is for this to happen as soon as possible, Stoltenberg said after meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
On March 17, Stoltenberg said in an interview with Dagens Nyheter that he had ruled the matter so that all 30 countries support Finnish and Swedish membership. The optimism was great. This should be fixed quickly.
But Erdogan hit the brakes and everything stopped. Now it needs to be cleaned up “ASAP”. It is not possible to set a timetable, and the summit in Madrid at least is no longer a deadline. In the Spanish capital, Erdogan can get all the attention he seeks for his many demands from Sweden, Finland and the Allies.
More predictably, the Swedish opposition, albeit inadvertently, lent a helping hand to Erdogan. This happened when a government crisis recently arose, which led to a sharp focus on Sweden’s relations with Kurdish organizations.
It was unnecessary and irresponsible.
Unnecessary because it is less than 100 days for voters to have their say in the elections for the new parliament. Irresponsible because the country could have fallen into disarray at a time when the need for political stability is increasing.
The government crisis was not really about NATO, Turkey or the Kurds, but rather about gang crime in Sweden. But since the entire bourgeois opposition backed the Swedish Democrats’ impeachment motion against Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has come to rely on the support of one woman on the sidelines:
Swedish-Kurdish independent actress Amina Kabbava.
Magdalena did not want to sacrifice a minister and made this a matter of government survival. The government remained seated, but only because Kakapavi abstained from the vote on the motion of no confidence.
At the same time, the Social Democrats kept their previous promises to Kabbava about, among other things, in-depth cooperation with the largest political party among Syria’s Kurds (the Democratic Union Party). Kakabeveh was very pleased with the result.
The problems were that it also fit Erdogan, like a glove. This gave him additional ammunition in his attacks on Sweden. Both countries accuse the candidates, especially Sweden, of being too friendly towards Kurdish groups, which he describes as terrorists.
– The Swedish government was forced to raise the agreement document at the flagpole and wave it in front of the world and appointed Erdogan, Eric Helmerson said in Dagens Nyheter.
Or as another commentator, Alex Shulman, wrote regarding the government crisis.
Swedish politics is undeserved, embarrassing, and should appear completely incomprehensible to the electorate.
One irony is that the bourgeois parties that had long defended Sweden in NATO contributed to a pernicious crisis only when membership became so important.
The Democratic Union Party is a political party. The armed branch is called the YPG. Erdogan places the YPG in the same category as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, which is also on the EU and US terror list.
But the United States and its allies have worked closely with the YPG in Syria. The Kurdish militia has played a crucial role in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey was one of the countries most affected by ISIS terrorism. Erdogan is now accusing those who fought terrorists on the ground in Syria of being terrorists themselves.
This is how complex alliances in the Middle East came to play a decisive role in Swedish domestic politics, and it happened at a very unfortunate time.
As members of the European Union, Sweden and Finland also consider the PKK a terrorist organization. But Erdogan is also demanding that they cut off contact with all Kurdish organizations he describes as terrorists, hand over Turkish opposition figures who have sought refuge in northern countries, as well as lift the embargo on arms exports to Ankara.
The longer negotiations with Finland and Sweden dragged on, the more it seemed as if Turkey’s list of demands would grow.
Prime Minister Andersen said on Monday that Sweden is tightening its anti-terror laws further. They are also intent on easing the embargo on arms exports to a future NATO ally.
But it is impossible for Sweden and Finland to meet all of Erdogan’s demands. It is also hard to see how Anderson could do something to improve relations with Erdogan without at the same time breaking the agreement with the only representative who has secured a majority for the government in Parliament.
Although Sweden is the first and last target of Erdogan’s wrath, Finland alone will not join NATO.
We are going hand in hand, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said this weekend.
This will likely work in the end. This usually happens when Turkey sets foot in NATO. But this does not happen without a sword strike, nor does Erdogan have anything tangible to show his audience. He just knows what is enough.
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