Geopolitical Insights

SITREP – Turkey Drops its Opposition to Sweden Joining NATO

July 11, 2023
What has Happened:

  • In a sudden reversal as the NATO Summit is set to begin today, Turkey’s President Erdogan has given his approval for Sweden to join NATO.
  • Prior to this decision, Erdogan had made advancing Turkey’s bid to join the European Union a requirement before he would provide his support.
  • However, in return for Erdogan’s vote, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO and Sweden have agreed to work bilaterally to combat terrorism, Sweden would assist in moving Turkey’s EU application along, and NATO would establish a new “special coordinator for counterterrorism.”
  • Hungary is the only other NATO member that stood in the way of Sweden joining NATO, but Hungarian officials have said that if Turkey changed its position, they would follow.
  • Finland joined NATO earlier this year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • In its annual threat assessment, the Swedish Security Service said that Russia is “the single largest actor threatening Sweden’s security,” through espionage, cyberattacks, sabotage of infrastructure, and influence operations.
  • Why it Matters:

    “It was 31, but it’s now 32. NATO’s expansion is exactly what Putin tried to prevent. A year and a half ago before Russia’s failed adventurism on the global stage in Ukraine, NATO’s expansion was simply a topic of discussion for academics and foreign policy pundits. Today, NATO is challenging Putin on his largest unprotected border with an alliance that is now more focused than ever on its core charter. Putin’s strategic missteps are tremendous and possibly irredeemable. NATO, however, will receive immense pressure to include Ukraine as a future member. In its ongoing war of sovereignty, Ukraine’s aspiration of NATO membership is a fool’s errand. Let’s assume that Putin is presented with an off ramp for this conflict. Following a sanctioned ceasefire and peace agreement, Ukraine will continue to find European goodwill to help it rebuild. That new normal of sustained economic stability will be an unquestioned precondition to NATO membership. Ukraine needs more time.”General Spider Marks

    “Turkey’s President Erdogan played his hand well in the recent negotiations to admit Sweden into NATO. Erdogan extracted the “legitimate security concerns” he sought while putting into play Turkey’s ascension into the EU. Politically he also puts himself on the perceived winning side as Putin and Russia are slowly being backed into a corner. Now more than ever, the U.S. and NATO need to continue to ease tensions with Turkey and Erdogan by acting strategically in the growing cold war between democracy and autocracy. Putin was trying to drive a wedge in between Turkey and NATO and once again finds himself on the losing side. Turkey’s surprise move over the weekend to release five Ukrainian military commanders was the signal that Erdogan was ready to play. Xi is watching the developments closely.” – General Robert Walsh