Once again, President RT Erdogan opposes NATO membership of Sweden and Finland

It comes as no surprise that Turkish President RT Erdogan announced last Friday that he would oppose Sweden and Finland joining NATO, despite recent efforts by Stockholm and Helsinki to meet the demands of the Turkish authorities. As before, the Head of State explains his decision, which turns out to be a blocker for the accession of the two Scandinavian countries to the Atlantic Alliance since it requires unanimity of votes, by the policies followed by the two countries. in matters of asylum, and in particular with regard to certain members of the Turkish workers' party or designated as such by Ankara, but also concerning the support of preachers Fethullah Gulen, an opponent of President Erdogan, and accused by the Turkish authorities of being behind the failed coup attempt of 2016. For the Turkish president, it would be a question of avoiding repeating the same error as when Greece joined the Atlantic alliance, compromising the passage that the two countries joined NATO jointly on February 18, 1952, and that Turkey then had no right to oppose Athens' membership.

For the time being, no official reaction has filtered concerning the announcement made by President Erdogan on Friday, neither from the White House nor from other European capitals. However, the Swedish Supreme Court yesterday rejected Ankara's request for extradition of journalist Bulent Kenes, former editor of the opposition daily Zaman daily, in exile in Stockholm for several years. The argument advanced by the Swedish authorities about the independence of the Swedish judicial system, a concept probably obscure for President Erdogan, obviously did not convince the Turkish authorities, who strongly protested. However, there is little doubt that the Swedish authorities had anticipated such an outcome, as the extradition request made by Ankara contravened Swedish laws, and it was very unlikely that it could be authorized by the judges of the Swedish Supreme Court.

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The extradition request for opposition journalist Bulent Kenes has been rejected by the Swedish Supreme Court.

However, the case of Bulent Kenes is revealing of the real Turkish ambitions. Indeed, while Ankara had initially announced that it intended to obtain several dozen extraditions of "terrorists" from Stockholm and Helsinki, only one formal procedure by name has actually been initiated by the Turkish authorities, which is vis-à-vis a journalist, knowing most certainly that the chances of success were slim. In other words, the arguments put forward by President Erdogan on the subject of the refusal of the accession of the two Scandinavian countries to NATO, had from the start very little materiality, and were, therefore, only decoys intended to veil the real objectives of Ankara, in particular concerning the lifting of American and European sanctions concerning certain defense technologies enabling the country to pursue its ambitious military equipment programs, but also to obtain benevolent Western neutrality concerning the ambitions displayed by Erdogan in Syria, Iraq and in the Caucasus, as well as de facto neutrality vis-à-vis tensions with Athens.


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