Why Erdogan is fighting over NATO expansion

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This week, I’m peering into the fog of Turkish domestic politics and Turkish foreign policy, trying to explain why President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Blockade Finland and Sweden Start with joining NATO.

Fog is a valid word.

The addition of Sweden and Finland to the Western military alliance will underscore how huge the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the European security order has been.But Turkey’s opposition, a NATO member since 1952which could prevent the consortium operating by consensus from formally accepting applications from Finland and Sweden Madrid Summit at the end of June.

On the face of it, Turkey would lift its opposition if the two Nordic countries take the hard line Against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an insurgent group that has waged an armed campaign against the Turkish state since the 1980s, and its affiliates.

Turkey wants Finland and Sweden to extradite dozens of people suspected of links to Kurdish militants and the Islamist Gulenist movement accused in Ankara of being the mastermind of a failed 2016 military coup. Finns and Swedes are also under pressure to end them. Arms embargo on Turkey.

Swedish and Finnish negotiators visit Ankara this week ice breakingbut without much luck.

Meanwhile, Erdogan raises tensions on the second front personal attack Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is Turkey’s NATO member and its traditional opponent in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Is the smog enough for you?

The starting point for understanding what’s going on is to understand that Finland and Sweden (and to some extent, even Greece) are not at the center of Turkey’s attention. Erdogan is motivated firstly by a desire to cast Turkey as an independently-thinking regional power, and secondly by his determination to defeat his political opponents in presidential and parliamentary elections a year later.

For a comprehensive, up-to-date analysis of the forces driving Turkey’s foreign policy, I recommend Articles by Garip Dalay German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He argues that Russian aggression and expansionism around Turkey — from the war against Georgia in 2008 and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 to its invasion of Ukraine in February — is actually pushing Ankara westward.

However, Turkey, heavily dependent on Russian energy, has not joined the latest Western sanctions on Moscow. Daley observed:

Turkey will continue to seek autonomy in its foreign and security policy.This task precedes balancing policy [between Russia and the west] and. . . Turkey’s interpretation of the global order becoming more multipolar and less Western-centric also informs us.

as the picture shows this survey For the German Marshall Fund in the US, Turkish public opinion is increasingly supporting the idea that the country should go it alone on the international stage – certainly not too closely with China, Russia or the US.

Other experts, including former EU ambassador to Ankara Marc Pierini, emphasized the role of domestic politics in shaping Erdogan’s foreign policy. Writing for the Carnegie European Think Tank, Pierini says:

Issues such as the choice of NATO expansion, the “unfair” treatment of Turkey by Western countries, and the struggle with the PKK are well represented in nationalist public opinion. . . Sweden and Finland have fallen victim to these tactics.

Thanks to his increasingly authoritarian approach to rule – described in Dimita Bechev’s new book, Turkey under Erdogan — Arguably, the president is in no real danger of losing power through the ballot box next year.

But much of the public is concerned about soaring prices, the plunging lira, Erdogan’s wayward economic policies and his suppress dissent.

Fighting the US and its NATO allies over NATO expansion is one way for Erdogan inspiring his nationalist supporters at home.

Maybe he will accept some kind of compromise and sooner or later Finland and Sweden will join NATO. But don’t expect friction between Turkey and Western governments to go away.

worthy of attention, worthy of citation

Most of us accept the fact [the UK prime minister] Won’t go, but we’ve already lost the next election —An unnamed Conservative MP interviewed by the Financial Times

a Conservative MP Responding to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Statement He will stay in office but has learned his lesson from drunken parties in Downing Street during the pandemic.

Tony’s Pick of the Week

  • Inflation and higher borrowing costs will drive down house prices in the euro zone, posing risks for low-income households, the ECB said.This Martin Arnold of the Financial Times Details in Frankfurt

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will complicate world efforts to tackle climate change, but long-term prospects The transition to a net-zero economy is not so bleakwriting for the McKinsey Quarterly by Hamid Samandari, Dickon Pinner, Harry Bowcott and Olivia White

tony.barber@ft.com

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