Erdogan pushes NATO expansion issue in Turkey's tense election campaign

Erdogan pushes NATO expansion issue in Turkey’s tense election campaign

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waiting game

All 30 NATO member states must approve the new ones.

To allay Turkey’s concerns, Sweden and Finland last summer reportedly linked PKK separatist militants in Turkey’s southeast – a hard line against what Ankara labels as predominantly Kurdish “terrorists”. Resolved to take

Washington, Stockholm and Helsinki hoped Ankara would ratify Turkey’s NATO bids before the election. But that prospect faded even before the Stockholm protest, with Erdogan calling for dozens of extraditions and deportations Swedish law would not allow.

Ozer Senker, chairman of pollster Metropol, said that raising foreign policy and security issues ahead of the election allows Erdogan to consolidate his voter base.

He “created a perception of a ‘strong leader’ inside Turkey,” he said. “If you can come up with a security problem, people get behind a strong leader.”

Both Swedish and Finnish officials have acknowledged that Turkey’s response to their membership bids – and security concerns – have domestic political dimensions.

“Of course they feel pressure from the mid-May elections and because of that the discussions in Turkey have become heated in many ways,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Reuters.

Turkey is likely to ratify the Nordic countries’ membership after May’s presidential and parliamentary elections and before the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12, he added.

But a Western diplomat who requested anonymity said the issue was “completely taken over by electoral politics” and that ratification could come as late as October, when Turkey’s parliament will resume after the summer. .

While Erdogan’s government supports the Nordics’ NATO bid with conditions, his political opponents were more supportive prior to the Stockholm events.

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