On July 10, 202, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped a shocking demand in consideration of Sweden’s NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) official membership, before future meeting with US President Joe Biden in Vilnius, asking for new rounds of discussion with other European countries on Turkey’s European Union (EU) membership, making a green light from Turkey to Sweden’s application a harsher conditional offer by linking Turkey’s EU membership with Swedish’s security position.
Reported by BBC, he informed that he had informed Biden on his demand. While NATO officials have left positive remark to Turkey’s decision, such as the head of NATO Jens Stoltenberg leaving optimistic comments that it is possible to make ‘positive decision’ in the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania by the end of the week, EU members took a different perspective. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dismissed the conditional offer idea, stating that the country’s EU membership application status have no connection to Sweden’s NATO position, which the Swedish have shown great effort to meet requirements. European Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant also commented that EU’s membership can only be granted in legal procedures, with clear set of steps needed by all possible candidates.
The shocking start of Russian-Ukraine war back in 2022, has sparked Northern European states near the zone like Finland and Sweden to rethink their security strategy, specifically on regional security cooperation like NATO. Both states are reported as early back in February 2023 to be considering about joining NATO officially, with Finland quickly got accepted in early April 2023, becoming the 31st member of the security organization, historically doubling the total length of NATO member’s borderlines connected to the Russian territory, while abandoning the country’s long-known military non-alignment between Western bloc and Russia since World War Two, also known for its process named ‘Finlandization’ of becoming so.
However, unlike its neighbour, Sweden has faced much more obstacles on its way applying for an official position. According to the NATO article 10 on its enlargement, despite upholding the ‘open door’ policy, states looking to join will have to go through general legal procedures, including being ratified by current members.
Turkey has been holding its decision on Sweden as they accuse the state to be harbouring Kurdish separationist from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) that are labelled as terrorists’ group in Turkey, demanding an extradition for those people back to their territory before allowing the state to join NATO. Out of long term pressure with US president Joe Biden commenting that they are ‘anxiously awaiting’ Sweden’s membership, the Swedish court jailed a Kurdish man for crimes related to financing terrorism activity on July 6, 2023, but Erdogan seems still unsatisfied, and commented that Sweden ‘have to do more on its homework’.
With Erdogan’s latest request for discussions on its EU membership with other European countries, it is seemingly hard to predict whether the country will demand more next. Unexpectedly, as Erdogan reached deal with NATO on July 11, 2023 latest, the months-long drama finally comes to an end, with Sweden agreeing to support reinvigorating Turkish EU membership in exchange, Financial Times reported.
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