Why Turkey changed its mind about Sweden joining NATO Ankara supports Stockholm’s offer after it wins support on crucial requirements, including the purchase of US F-16s and visa-free travel to the Schengen region of Europe.
Before a NATO summit in Lithuania, negotiations between the presidents of the two countries took place behind closed doors. As a result, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Turkey have now agreed to allow Sweden to join the alliance.
At a press conference in Vilnius late on Monday, Stoltenberg said, “Finishing Sweden’s accession to NATO is a historic step that benefits the security of all NATO allies at this crucial time.”
The US Biden administration declared it will move through with the supply of F-16 fighter fighters to Turkey in consultation with the US Congress hours after Ankara’s decision, in what appeared to be a trade-off for Ankara’s confirmation of Stockholm’s NATO membership.
Separately, the Pentagon reported on Tuesday that US Secretary of DE fence Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with Turkish Defiance Minister Yusra Gluer about his country’s role in Turkey’s military modernization. This is yet another sign that discussions over Sweden’s entry were aided by a US-Turkey defense agreement.
Why Turkey changed its mind about Sweden joining NATO || سویڈن کی نیٹو میں شمولیت Ankara sought to purchase US F-16s and modernize the ones it already owns as compensation for its 2019 removal from a US-led international programmed developing and producing new F-35 fighter jets. After Turkey purchased the S-400 defiance system from Russia over US warnings, Washington expelled Turkey from the well-known programmed.
The development led to a bilateral crisis between the two allies and Washington’s imposition of sanctions on Turkey in December 2020 in the area of defiance under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was the first law to target a NATO member with such sanctions.
For more than a year, this made Ankara’s veto of Sweden’s NATO bid a sore spot in its already tense ties with the West. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Sweden and Finland submitted their applications for membership in May 2022.
Turkey’s bigger picture
Gallup Delay, a senior fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs who is not a resident, claims that Sweden’s NATO accession has been a subject on Turkey’s agenda with regard to the West, and more specifically with regard to the US.
It was obvious from the start of this process that Ankara anticipated receiving F-16s from Washington. But using Sweden’s procedure as a benchmark, Turkey also desired a general normalization and improvement in its relations with the US and other EU nations, Dalay said Al Jazeera.
Sweden joining NATO || سویڈن کی نیٹو میں شمولیت pledged to cooperate closely with Ankara to resolve the latter’s security concerns through yearly trilateral meetings that include NATO, according to a joint statement issued following the discussions late on Monday. Stockholm reaffirmed that its “counterterrorism” measures would continue when it joined the alliance, echoing a comparable, unfulfilled agreement negotiated in Madrid in 2022.
Sweden reaffirmed its decision not to sponsor Kurdish fighter organizations or what Turkey refers to as the “Fethullah Terror Organization,” which is blamed for a botched attempt in 2016 that claimed hundreds of lives.
According to Delay, the goal of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to use Sweden as a parable to convey his fears about “terrorism” to the West was to send a message to the West.
According to him, Ankara wants to amend Sweden’s legislation to be harder on terrorism in order to pressure other Western partners to follow suit with regard to the organizations that Ankara views as terrorists.
Dalay further claimed that by practically tying Ankara’s problems with the EU to Sweden’s NATO aspirations, Erdogan was able to fulfil his goals regarding relations between Turkey and the EU.
In the joint statement, Sweden expressed support for efforts to restart the membership discussions, which were mentioned in relation to Turkey’s stalled EU entrance process. Since 2016, there has been no movement in the negotiations with Ankara, a candidate for membership since 2005.
The modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and visa liberalization were two more areas Ankara wanted addressed, and Stockholm pledged to “actively support efforts” in both of these areas.
Ankara has regularly denounced the rise in Turkish residents’ Schengen visa requests being denied and called for visa-free travel for Turks to Europe.
In order to obtain the concession, EU officials say Ankara must improve on their standards. They also assert that Turkish residents’ applications are not mistreated.
A customs union that Turkey has enjoyed with the EU since 1996 has long been changed, as well. Despite requests from Ankara and the business community in both countries, the EU has not consented to begin negotiations on the matter.
Erdogan ties concerns with the EU and NATO
Erdogan demanded the resumption of Turkey’s EU negotiations prior to Vilnius, a request that was immediately turned down by both Berlin and Washington.
Before leaving on Monday, he stated, “Come and open the way for Turkey at the European Union and then we will open the way for Sweden, just as we did for Finland.”
According to Marwan Caliban, director of policy analysis at the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, the Turkish president made the statement knowing that the need would not be satisfied.
Erdogan “tried to make the best out of this deal from Sweden, the US, and the EU,” according to Al Jazeera.
He said, however, that as his nation experienced its worst economic turmoil in decades, Erdogan also wished to prevent a potential bigger crisis with the West.
Erdogan, according to Delay, raised the stakes by tying Turkey’s EU aspirations to Sweden’s NATO aspirations in order to gain the support he needed for the customs union and visa-free travel.
The agreement has not yet been officially announced by Ankara, and Sweden will not join NATO until it has been approved by the Turkish parliament, whose approval date is yet unknown.
The two-day NATO summit in Vilnius won’t be discussing this matter because of the behind-closed-doors agreement.
A similar agreement reached in Madrid in June 2022 did not result in Sweden joining because Ankara disapproved of Stockholm’s execution of the accord, particularly its efforts to combat “terrorism.”
Since then, Sweden has strengthened controls in this area by amending its constitution and other legislation, and it has taken a stronger position against rallies in support of prohibited groups and attempts to amass or provide financial aid for them.