(Washington, D.C.) — “Erdogan has once again hijacked NATO’s cohesion for his own political gain at a crucial moment for the Alliance’s security,” the Turkish Democracy project said today. “Worse still, the Turkish President’s manufactured concerns of Kurdish terrorism have been bolstered on the international stage, which will surely lead to greater oppression of the Kurdish minority at home.”
Following a trilateral meeting between Sweden, Finland and Turkey on Tuesday, presided over by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the three countries signed a memorandum in which Turkey confirmed its support for NATO’s open-door policy. In return, the Nordic countries committed to cooperating with Ankara to combat “terrorism” and lifted an arms embargo imposed on Turkey since its 2019 invasion of northern Syria. Washington has also signalled support for Turkey’s desire to acquire F-16 fighter jets, a move previously blocked by the Biden administration.
These concessions provide ill-gotten international wins for President Erdogan ahead of Turkish elections next year. Faced with runaway inflation, already exceeding 73% year on year, a tumbling lira and soaring food prices, the Turkish President desperately needs to distract an increasingly sour public from the root cause of their malaise: the President’s autocratic manipulation of the economy. By forcing NATO, Sweden and Finland to validate his manufactured concerns over Kurdish “terrorism”, Erdogan hopes to stoke domestic nationalistic sentiment ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.
Erdogan’s successful disruption of NATO unity and security comes as he aligns himself with the Alliance’s traditional enemies: this week he made overtures to state-sponsor of terror Iran; earlier this month he hosted Venezuelan President Maduro; and above all throughout the war in Ukraine he has provided both diplomatic and material cover for Vladimir Putin, of which his move to block Nordic expansion of the Alliance is merely the latest example.
Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of Turkish Democracy Project, said:
“The Turkish president has proven anew that an Erdogan led turkey has no place in NATO. Alliances are not defined by blackmail. From sending illicit arms to Libya, to picking fights with fellow NATO members, to threatening NATO’s security through relations with Moscow and Tehran – the Turkish President has repeatedly shown that, under his rule, Turkey is a NATO member only in name. Making concessions to Erdogan only leads to more demands.
While the unblocking of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO is to be welcomed, this has come at a significant and avoidable cost. NATO’s members can and should bring any number of external pressures to bear on the autocratic Turkish President.”
To read TDP Advisory Board Member Joseph Lieberman and CEO Mark Wallace’s opinion piece on Turkey’s place in NATO, click here.