Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emphasized that he does not hesitate to agree to NATO membership of Finland and Sweden.
He said in a speech to young people that the northern European countries harbour terrorists and that he wants to maintain good relations with Moscow and Kyiv. Turkey has been a historic pillar of NATO since the Cold War and, like any member, has the ability to block applications from new members.
Erdogan is not only angry that there is support in Northern Europe for the Kurdish terrorist movement PKK. But he also hopes to act as a mediator between the belligerent neighbours across the Black Sea, Ukraine and Russia. Turkey is not participating in anti-Russian sanctions and Erdogan has also pointed to his country’s economic interests.
It is estimated that more than 45 percent of the gas the country uses comes from Russia, 70 percent of its wheat comes from Russia and a significant proportion of tourists to Turkey are usually Russians. Meanwhile, Turkey and Russia have been building a huge nuclear power plants on the Mediterranean Sea for years. The Akkuyu NPP project worth 20 billion dollars should provide at least 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity needs after 2023. Erdogan said the plant will open next year and is very important for Turkey.
The president sounded more determined in his speech than his foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in New York on Wednesday, according to Turkish media. He then told his American colleague Antony Blinken that Turkey is always open to new NATO members, but that something must be done about Turkey’s concerns about security aspects with regard to Finland and especially Sweden.