Finland and Sweden want to join NATO – but Turkey doesn’t want to agree at the moment. According to experts, also because Ankara probably wants to enforce stricter action against the Kurdish PKK.

According to experts, Turkey is using its threat to veto Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO accession as a means of pressure to enforce national security interests.

Soner Cagaptay from the Washington Institute of the German Press Agency said on Wednesday that Ankara could aim to have the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG classified as a terrorist organization by the NATO partner. Stricter action against the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK in Sweden and other countries is also on Turkey’s agenda.

Turkey does not want to agree to accession at present

Turkey has made it clear several times that it currently does not want to agree to Finland and Sweden joining. She justifies this with the alleged support of both countries for the PKK and the YPG. Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the US. Turkey is taking action in northern Syria against the YPG – which is not listed as a terrorist organization in the USA and Europe. In response to the Turkish invasion there in 2019, Sweden, Finland and the federal government, among others, had partially stopped arms exports to Turkey. The offensive was criticized by many as violating international law.

“Ankara misses solidarity among NATO partners when it comes to the PKK and the YPG, which it sees as an existential threat,” said Mustafa Aydın, professor of international relations at Kadir Has University.

“You have to remember that the Kurdish question, the fear of the PKK, is real in Turkey,” Paul Levin, head of the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, told the Swedish news agency TT. “This is a deep-rooted anger shared by many beyond Erdogan’s AKP party and those immediately around him.” From a Turkish point of view, it is difficult to understand that PKK flags can be waved in Swedish squares.

According to diplomats, in addition to statements on the fight against terrorism, arms deals could also play a role. The government in Ankara wants to buy F-16 fighter jets in the USA – but a possible deal was politically controversial in Washington recently.