In a recent article in the Economist (5/30/22), Erdogan, Turkey’s president, makes his case for his objection to Finland’s and Sweden’s joining NATO.
He says that the PKK, Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party, an adversary to Turkey in a 40 year long conflict, should not be allowed in those Nordic countries because they are a terrorist organization, having been so labelled by the EU and the US.
As reported by the International Crisis Group, almost 6000 fatalities have resulted since 2015 from clashes between the parties which have taken place in Kurdish majority areas in southeast Turkey and in northern Iraq and Syria.
Complicating matters, the Kurds have been allies of the US in the fight against ISIS in the region.
Erdogan wants the PKK expelled from Finland and Sweden and their members extradited to Turkey.
He cites the need for NATO member countries to not host enemies of any such countries, since all such nations have pled to go to each other’s assistance.
Turkey has made its contributions to NATO but it is also very much dedicated to its own agenda.
For instance, they have chosen to not join in with the West in applying sanctions against Russia in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some years ago they chose to proceed with buying Russian missile systems much against NATO’s objections who argued the joint operation of such equipment would create vulnerabilities for NATO.
Erdogan also wants Finland to lift a ban on Turkey’s purchase of weapons from them.
And he also wants to be able to buy late model American warplanes, a sale that has been held back because of the purchases of the Russian missile systems.
In the article, Erdogan makes no mention of the last four points.
While Turkey has made contributions to NATO over the years, it seems Erdogan wants to chart his own course, do what is convenient for him and still be able to cozy up to the Russians.
Turkey is not a democracy and the likelihood seems remote that they will become one.
And so their long standing aspiration to become an EU member appears doomed.
That they have chosen to not join in with the West (Hungary excepted) in sanctioning Russia stands out as the most egregious of flaws.
Erdogan likes to cherry pick. He will do what is most convenient for him. It tells us a great deal about him and the nation he presides.
There is no guarantee that any NATO member nation will step up when a crisis erupts, but Erdogan and Turkey are clearly telling us that sacrifices for the sake of the group are always optional. They will decide what they will do when the time comes.
He is an ambitions man. He is bent on remaining in power and on extending his reach into Africa (e.g. Libya, Sudan) and the Middle East.
Becoming a regional power seems to be his greatest ambition.
Whereas I agree that no NATO member nation should host organizations active against a member nation – more so when they have been designated terrorist organizations –
Erdogan’s resistance to Finland and Sweden joining, in light of his past behavior, is not justified.
The interests of NATO supersede Turkey’s contributions to the organization.
The KPP should be expelled from Finland and Sweden, without the extradition of its members to Turkey, and that should be enough for Turkey to withdraw its objection.
Should that not be enough, maybe NATO should do without Turkey.
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts