If you haven’t heard, NATO is attempting to get an expansion. Both Sweden and Finland have decided to join the group of western military alliances following Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
However, it would seem that their acceptance into the group isn’t going to happen any time soon.
Well, for starters, all current members of NATO must first approve of their joining the group. So far, all but two of the thirty countries have done so. But those remaining, Turkey and Hungary, say that the Nordic nations must make a few major law changes first.
According to Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman and foreign policy adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, “It really just depends on how fast they move and how wide and deep they move on these issues.”
The “issues” are that both Sweden and Finland supposedly need to implement stricter counterterrorism measures in their national laws. Specifically, Turkey would like to see both nations do more to rein in the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, a group it blames for an attempted coup in 2016. At the very least, a strong message from both nations to the terrorist group is desired.
Now, the good news is that both Sweden and Finland have agreed to do such. The trick, however, is the timing of such.
As Kalin told the press, Turkey does, in fact, want to see the nations join NATO. But as I mentioned, there are stipulations, and so far, those have not been met. According to Kalin, both countries have asked for “a little bit more time.”
The deadline for such actions was originally June, a year from when the initial agreements were signed at last year’s NATO summit.
But as Kalin has noted, that’s unlikely to happen.
Then again, it’s not all Sweden and Finland’s fault.
Kalin explained that the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey might also play a part in the timing.
Currently, the polls are scheduled for June 18. However, thanks to the timing of the Mecca pilgrimage and a religious holiday, that may have to be moved up by as much as a month. Naturally, any NATO deal must be ratified by parliament. With it likely to go into recess before such elections, the likelihood of either nation being approved by the legislative body before June is highly unlikely.
There is also word that a meeting between officials from Sweden, Finland, and Turkey set for February may only make things even more controversial. According to Kalin, certain instances, such as a recent hanging of any effigy of the Turkish president in Stockholm, could complicate relations between the nations, especially given the upcoming elections. The spokesman noted that these incidents could, in fact, even slow down any progress to be made. Naturally, all eyes will be on the February meeting for sure.
Depending on the outcome of this meeting, the nations’ applications for NATO could be made or broken.
Another meeting, also in February, between Ankara and Damascus will likely affect how relationships between the Nordic nations and Turkey and Hungary go. Kalin says if all goes well, another meeting, this one with the Turkish president, could be scheduled and would signify a significant move forward.
But as you can tell, there are a lot of moving pieces. And apparently, they will have to move with precision for all to go smoothly and for NATO to be expanded.