Turkey seems to be backing down on Finland and Sweden’s intention to join NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation). Important decisions such as granting membership to a new country in NATO are made by consensus. Therefore, even if one of the member countries does not agree, the decision still stands.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday bluntly said he would reject the two countries’ plans to join NATO. He alleged that both these countries have been “guesthouses of terrorists” in a way. Earlier on Wednesday, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO. Both these countries have taken this decision in the atmosphere created after the Russian attack on Ukraine.
NATO was established in 1949. Turkey joined it in 1952. Turkey ranks second in terms of the largest army among the countries involved in this military organization. Erdogan alleges that Finland and Sweden have sheltered members of Turkey’s separatist party, the PKK. The PKK wants to separate Kurdish-dominated regions from Turkey and create an independent country. For this, she has been involved in an armed fight against Turkey for decades. Apart from Turkey, the PKK has also been put on the list of terrorist organizations by the US and the European Union.
According to analysts, Turkey has long been upset with the Western stand on the PKK issue. Its complaint has been that these countries have not supported Turkey in its fight with Kurdish separatists. Turkey has previously been accused by Sweden of harboring Kurdish militants. It has also helped anti-Turkish groups in northern Syria. Turkey considers these groups to be part of the PKK.
Turkey says it has sent requests for the extradition of Kurdish militants to Finland and Sweden several times, but both countries have not responded. It is said that some people associated with the faction named Fato are also present in these two countries. Fato is the organization of Maulvi Fethullah Gulen living in America. Turkey alleges that the group tried to overthrow Erdogan in 2016.
According to analysts, Erdogan is taking revenge on the old resentment he has with the West on this issue. Asli Iydintesbas, senior policy fellow at the think tank European Council, wrote in a comment: ‘This issue is not just related to Sweden and Finland. Erdogan is taking this opportunity to avenge his old grievance against the current members of NATO. Especially his complaint is with the Biden administration, which has kept a distance from Turkey.