Erdogan wants his “pound of flesh”


“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that his country is “not favorable” toward Finland and Sweden joining NATO, indicating Turkey could use its membership in the Western military alliance to veto moves to admit the two countries.

“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Erdogan told reporters.

The Turkish leader explained his opposition by citing Sweden and other Scandinavian countries’ alleged support for Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers to be terrorists.

He said he also did not want to repeat Turkey’s past “mistake” from when it agreed to readmit Greece into NATO’s military wing in 1980. He claimed the action had allowed Greece “to take an attitude against Turkey” with NATO’s backing.

Erdogan did not say outright that he would block any accession attempts by the two Nordic nations. However, NATO makes all its decisions by consensus, meaning that each of the 30 member countries has a potential veto over who can join.

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to reconsider their traditions of military nonalignment. Public opinion in the two countries quickly started to shift toward favoring NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Should the two countries proceed on that path, it would represent a blow to Russia since President Vladimir Putin cited NATO’s expansion near Russian territory as one of his justifications for invading Ukraine.

U.S. President Joe Biden held a call Friday with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland.”

Comment: “Never let a crisis go to waste.” pl

Turkey’s president opposes letting Finland, Sweden join NATO : NPR

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16 Responses to Erdogan wants his “pound of flesh”

  1. kodlu says:

    First off: Erdogan made a massive mistake in Syria which cost Turkey and Syrian people much suffering. The price for this is still being paid. He was stupid to get in bed with extreme islamist militia, though Syrian people had legitimate grievances against Assad. You could say that Obama left him high and dry in Syria. On the other hand Turkey should have supported the territorial integrity of Syria and not get involved so deeply in internal strife there.

    I hate Erdogan and hope he leaves soon, peacefully preferably being voted out. He has destroyed a lot that was good about Turkey (relatively independent judiciary being a very major aspect) and it will be a very long rebuilding process.

    On this issue, I think the vast majority of voters in Turkey as well as the TSK (Turkish Armed Forces) support him. There are many examples of undermining of Turkey by NATO members. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

    Countries routinely block unanimous decisions to get something important.

    The Scandinavian countries (including Sweden and Finland) give massive support to the PKK which is recognised as a Terrorist Organisation by NATO, EU etc.

    PKK blows up civilians, most recently proudly admitted killing Kurdish citizens of Turkey on their own website. Anyone who doesn’t support their pseudo-marxist goals of an independent Kurdistan on Turkish territory is a traitor. The vast majority of Kurdish citizens of Turkey don’t support a military solution. PKK cannot defeat the Turkish army.

    US also heavily supports YPG (really the sister organisation of PKK) in trying to dismember Syria, which some other commentators here do not support, neither do I.

    Turkey supports Barzani’s Kurdish federated entity, against Iranian backed militia, US and Turkey are on the same page there.

    On a broader geostrategic front Turkey is engaged against Russia in Libya [supporting the Legitimate government while Russia/France/UAE/Egypt support Haftar] in Syria and other NATO members (other than Italy) tacitly support the other side. Turkey is a bulwark against Iran as well, if you’re into that sort of thing, I understand that NATO is into that sort of thing.

    Turkey has been a bulwark against the Soviet block, providing real military capabilities to NATO (unlike some of the tiny recent members with no real military power) since the early 1950s. More recently it has supported missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, where its cultural links mean that Turkish soldiers could patrol with no heavy armor, on foot, amongst civilians in these countries, giving NATO an additional capability.

    I wonder what IZ thinks of this, he has been quiet.

    • Polish Janitor says:

      I enjoyed reading your analysis, I liked the format of your arguments going from point to point briefly and covering a range of issues important to the region’s geopolitics. But let me raise a few points on the topic of Turkey:

      You missed three (rather major) points about Turkey’s geopolitical maneuvers: 1. The Moslem Brotherhood ideology that provides Turkey with ideological (some say soft power proxy) tool in its foreign policy toolkit. You can see its presence in many areas from Hamas in Gaza to Somalia, Qatar, and even in the U.S. political structure among the likes of Keith Elison and Ilhan Omar and CAIR. Both Turkey and Iran are similar in this area, but while Turkey uses the MB to gain influence at the elite and organizational level sticking to the soft power for the most part, Iran uses its proxies mostly as footsoldiers/mercenaries to confront its perceived America/Western interests. The former is sophisticated and more sustainable, while the latter is very rudimentary and primitive. The Moslem Brotherhood has become an issue of friction between the west and its middle-east allies such as UAE, KSA, Egypt and Israel and thus it needs to undergo change if Turkey intends to get into a ‘grand bargin’ with the west.

      2. In Afghanistan, Turkey+Qatar are on the side of Taliban, whereas NATO and UN are on the side of the whatever “remnants” of the “civil society” is left there. Afghanistan has been a major file for the NATO and UN since the very messy Biden’s withdrawal from the country. The Taliban are so evil and barbaric that have figured out the game vis-à-vis the NATO and UN in the sense that whenever it wants to get something from the west it stars murdering civilians and engage in a form of ‘hostage diplomacy’ that it has learned from one of its neighbors (I let you figure this one out!). The West for its part always ‘gives in’ and so this is the pattern of interaction that links NATO and UN to the Taliban and Turkey plus Qatar evidently are not cooperating with the NATO and UN and I think this will become an issue if the topic raises among the NATO members.
      3. Turkey by doing this is actually elevating its hand vis-à-vis Russia and NATO is gaining leverage. Turkey apparently is very good at situating itself among two conflicting camps while at the same time gain concessions from both. It is known that Istanbul is very popular with Russian billionaires and oligarchs and many of these human wallets for Putin since the start of the war have found safe haven in Turkey, UAE, Azerbaijan, Cyprus and Israel and Switzerland. I see two scenarios here: Turkey can stall the process, buying time for the ailing Putin (who hopefully will soon go six feet under the dirt and saving everyone from all the global inflation currently ongoing!) to think about some exist strategy and face-saving and gain concessions from the West afterwards, or it can move against Putin but with the cost of seriously staining Turkey-Russian relations and instead put forth most (if not all) of its major issues and try to gain as much point as possible from the West.

      Three recent indications lead me to tilt toward the second scenario: 1. Turkey’s warming of relations with Israel. 2. Turkey’s increasing friction and even direct confrontation against Iran (on so many levels already), that may paint it as a bulwark against Iranian influence in the region and, 3. The ‘rumors’ that Putin is diagnosed with cancer and is dying and therefore is in its nadir of power and influence which makes moves against Russia less-costly that say a few years ago.

      • kodlu says:

        Thanks for your well-thought out and detailed response. Just a few quick bullet points to show where I stand on these:

        1. I am no fan of Muslim Brotherhood, and would like Turkey to loosen ties with them. This cannot fully happen until Erdogan leaves. There is also the detail that MB and MB linked movements (most strongly in Egypt with Noursi) while not democratic or desirable are still more rooted in the masses than the Sisi Dictatorship. But that should not be the sole basis of conducting the foreign policy of Turkey.

        2. Yes, Taliban is horrible. I disagree that the division between where Turkey + Qatar stand and where the rest of the west stand is so clearcut. To some extent, Turkey and Qatar are agents of the west, keeping lines of communication with Taliban. Turkey has previously supported the Northern Alliance against Taliban [Dostum], none of these parties are savoury, of course.

        3. I largely agree with what you are saying here.

        Overall, Turkey and Iran are rivals, but also try to keep their rivalry limited to proxies. With the Abraham accords the middle east has changed to an extent, and the rich Gulfies have now explicitly abandoned the Palestinians. UAE and Saudi are simultaneously afraid of Iran, but talking to Iran more, and also talking to Russia and China much more. So much more room to maneouver for all parties.

  2. Bill Roche says:

    I’m sure you’ve long since forgotten but in ’70 Fkt SSG sent me to Finland on SALT TDY. I grew to like the Finns. Perhaps obstinate, they were realists. Putin must have seen his adventure in Ukraine could drive the Finns to NATO. In response he threatens them w/nukes. Sweden, from NATO’s perspective, must be a pleasant surprise. Finland, as a new member would not be another Macedonia. The Finns are serious people w/quiet resolve (that sisou thing), and can put up a formidable military face over 850 miles of border w/Russia. This is an awful possibility for Putin who enjoyed peaceful relations. If Russia’s misadventure in Ukraine finishes badly for her, can Austrian NATO membership be far behind? What advantage for Austria, to be the only central European hold out to the alliance. Just what Vlady d/n want! All Western and Eastern Europe aligned against mother Russia. Did Putin really think he could restore Russia to 1914.

    • glupi says:

      Some people are asking why there are no referendums on NATO membership in Finland and Sweden. There were such on EU accession.

      Don’t Finns and Swedes deserve a voice with nuclear death lurking?

      Ordinary Austrians don’t want to be in NATO. A man poignantly told the reporter he didn’t want his son sent to war in a far-away land. (Deutschlandfunk as of this morning)

  3. Leith says:

    First Hungary’s Viktor Orban was said to probably block Finland from joining NATO. But Orban recently changed his mind. Now Erdogan is playing hard to get, waiting for some kind of deal to make him change his mind.

    But even if Turkey does not veto membership, it will not happen overnight. There is normally no fast track for joining NATO. It could take a year or two. I guess that is why Finland and Sweden just signed an mutual defense treaty with the UK a couple of days ago.

    • Fred says:

      Hooray! They have UK’s nuclear umbrella to defend them. Guess they don’t need ours, I mean NATOs (is there any difference) any longer.

      • English Outsider says:

        Fred – does that mutual defence treaty mean that the UK nuclear deterrent is at the service of the Finns? If so, then it means yours is.

        The Russian early warning system has nowhere near the comprehensive coverage of the American. Could they in any case tell the difference between a British missile popping out of the sea somewhere and an American? Doubt they’d worry too much about the distinction if they could.

  4. d74 says:

    As usual: blackmail.
    Who will have enough nerve to tell him to keep quiet?
    Considering the courage in Europe, he will get his pound of rotten meat.

    In doing so, he acts as a valuable ally of the Russians. But this is only an appearance. The leader in Ankara is a tightrope walker doing a minuet on a razor blade.

    • kodlu says:

      Blackmail is a tried and true technique in international relations, just one example is Greece blackmailing all of EU during the 2004 expansion, forcing them to accept a divided Cyprus “unconditionally”, leading to Greek Cypriots rejecting the Annan plan for reunification. The EU was left holding the bag for that mess-up, while the Turkish cypriots voted for reunification.

      If a minor player like Greece can do it, why shouldn’t Erdo try, Turkey actually brings real military capability to NATO and is one of the major players.

  5. Christian J. Chuba says:

    Finland joining NATO is a huge blow to Russia (Sweden not so much).

    Finland shares a long border with Russia and Finland’s border will be accessible by every NATO, including the U.S. nuclear arsenal since Trump ditched the INF) The only bright side for Putin is that Russians will correctly see this as our long term campaign against them.

  6. eakens says:

    Turkey knows this whole Russia fiasco is intended to get them weakened and out of Syria and the Black Sea for cui bonos benefit. They may actually block this.

  7. Racan says:

    Sultan Erdogan wants his F-35s.

  8. mcohen says:

    Bit of of funny article,very serious.oh well

    Russia is in Syria with warships and bases,to the south of the North in crimea and southern Ukraine,and to the east of Turkey in georgia.all breakaway break then away we go.That is now 2022.on a timeline of say 8 years,I would say that things could change as they certainly have over the last 8 years

  9. Fakebot says:

    I don’t think NATO membership for Sweden or Finland really matters. The US should do things the constitutional way. Make bilateral agreements passed through Congress to come to their aid in the event of a Russia invasion. Other countries like Germany and the UK can follow. This could serve as another type of solution for Ukraine too.

    If Turkey wants to gripe about the PKK harbored in Europe, then Erdogan should explain why ISIS leaders keep popping up in Syrian areas they control.

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