“We are closely following the latest developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we do not have a positive opinion”, warned the Turkish president, while Helsinki formalized this week its wish to join NATO and that Stockholm is preparing to follow suit. Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952.
“Unfortunately, Scandinavian countries are almost guesthouses for terrorist organizations”accused Mr. Erdogan, Quoted by Hurriyet. “I would go even further: over there, they sit in Parliament. It is impossible for us to see this with a positive eye”. The Turkish president is particularly targeting the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the European Union (EU) and the United States.
“Traditionally, the Scandinavian countries have served as a refuge for many Turkish activists and politicians – pro-Kurds, leftists or Islamists – fleeing repression in their country, whether they have chosen the peaceful voice or are more or less close of these armed groups considered as terrorists by the EU, and which continue to carry out attacks on Turkish soil”, Explain El País.
While the path to membership seemed “unobstructed” for Finland and Sweden, “Erdogan’s opposition could prove problematic”the entry of a new member to be decided “unanimously”, remember Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE-RL).
US President Joe Biden spoke to Finnish and Swedish leaders on Friday and recalled “its support for NATO’s open door policy and the right of Finland and Sweden to decide their future, their foreign policy and their security choices”according to the White House.
The United States has also assured that it “were working to clarify Turkey’s position”precise RFE-RL.
According to some observers, the apparently intransigent position of Turkey would aim to obtain counterparties from NATO members, in particular the United States, in exchange for its green light.
“Turkey has suffered from tense relations with NATO countries in recent years”, observe the FinancialTimes. “The United States imposed sanctions on it in 2020, in retaliation for Erdogan’s decision to purchase and deliver the Russian S-400 anti-missile system”.
Turkey was then excluded by Washington from the American F-35 stealth fighter program, for which it had placed an order and paid a deposit of 1.4 billion dollars. A return of Ankara in the American order book could soften Mr. Erdogan on the Scandinavian file, judge the observers.
First Russian response?
Finland’s decision to knock on NATO’s door also angered Russia, which had promised a response on Thursday. “military-technical”. Coincidence – or not – of the calendar, the Scandinavian subsidiary of the Russian electrician InterRAO announced Friday that it would stop supplying electricity to Finland as of Saturday.
“Rao Nordic’s decision was not explicitly linked to Finland’s decision” to join NATO, underlines the BBC. The official reason would be a Finnish payment default – which neither Helsinki nor Moscow wanted to explain in detail.
RAO Nordic claimed that it was a “exceptional situation, which happens for the first time in more than twenty years”and that the supply of electricity would resume as soon as the payments are regularized.
Finland’s electricity network, Fingrid, played down the impact of the measure, with electricity imported from Russia representing only 10% of the country’s consumption, according to The Hill. The Russian withdrawal “will be compensated by additional imports from Sweden, and by increased production in Finland”said a Fingrid official.