He has dashed analysts’ confident predictions that he would lift Ankara’s blockade on Sweden’s entry into the alliance after Türkiye’s presidential elections, which he won in May, or certainly at the latest at the annual NATO summit, which took place in July. In that session, promised that Türkiye would allow Sweden’s accession at the end of this year. Two days later he changed his tune. saying that the Turkish parliament, where he has influence, would have to approve it.
Erdogan’s obstructionism is contagious. He has apparently emboldened another problem child in NATO: Hungary. Having previously promised to support Sweden’s accession, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatened to prevent it, angered by Stockholm’s criticism of her authoritarian methods.
As is often the case, given Erdogan’s transactional approach to international politics, a concession must be made before he agrees to open NATO’s doors to Sweden. He wants to close a deal to purchase $20 billion worth of American-made F-16 fighters, along with modernization kits for the country’s aging fleet.
President Biden backed the F-16 sale, but made it clear to Erdogan that Congress has to approve it. AND Biden’s influence in Congress is more limited than Erdogan’s in the Turkish parliament. Members of Congress, who know how Erdogan operates, want Turkey’s control over Sweden’s NATO membership to be definitively lifted before approving the full F-16 deal. Many of them are reluctant for the good reason that Turkey’s retreat from democratic norms has accelerated. After meeting Biden this month at the Group of 20 summit with major industrial nations, Erdogan expressed dismay, seemingly without ironythat Biden was tying the F-16 package to Sweden.
The confrontation is a bouquet of flowers for Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Erdogan has proclaimed he has a “special relationship.” The Turkish leader would do well to reassess where his interests lie: with his NATO allies, whose combined economic output is about 10 times that of Russia, or with the Kremlin’s warmongers, who are struggling to keep their economy going against the weight of the West. sanctions.
He The Western alliance would be significantly strengthened by Sweden’s entry, and Stockholm is understandably frustrated by the delay. He set aside decades of formal neutrality to apply for NATO membership shortly after Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Mindful of Erdogan’s stated objections to joining the alliance, Stockholm has addressed Ankara’s concerns that it has failed to act aggressively against Kurds living in Sweden, a whom Turkey considers terrorists. To this end, it has extradited several Kurds at the request of Türkiye, and also modified its laws and constitution to allow harsher dealings with suspected terrorists. Last year, Stockholm also lifted its arms embargo. about Türkiye.
Meanwhile, Sweden and NATO have strengthened long-standing ties even without formal membership. And in preparation to join, Sweden has dramatically increased military spending to meet NATO’s goal of spending 2 percent of annual gross domestic product on defense.
Erdogan risks exaggerating. His efforts to bargain in exchange for giving Sweden the NATO nod have included demanding progress on Turkey joining the European Union and intimidating Stockholm into legislate a formal ban on burning the Koran – an act of protest that has become more common lately. The first is a non-starter.; the latter is an affront to Stockholm’s tradition of free speech.
Your best option, and NATO’s, is go ahead with the deal that Biden and key members of Congress have indicated they are willing to offer: the F-16 package once Turkey formally ratifies Sweden’s membership in NATO.
The opinion of the publication | About the editorial board
Editorials represent the views of The Post as an institution, determined through debate among members of the editorial boardbased in the Opinions section and separate from the editorial team.
Editorial Board Members and Focus Areas: Opinion editor David Shipley; Deputy Opinion Editor Karen Tumulty; Associate Opinion Editor Stephen Stromberg (national politics and policies); Lee Hockstader (European Affairs, based in Paris); David E. Hoffman (global public health); James Hohman (domestic politics and electoral politics, including the White House, Congress, and governors); carlos lane (foreign affairs, national security, international economy); long heather (economic Sciences); Associate Editor Ruth Marcos; Mili Mitra (public policy solutions and audience development); Keith Richburg (External relationships); and Molly Roberts (technology and society).