Threatening to block NATO enlargement with the accession of Finland and Sweden, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rekindled doubts about Turkey's credibility as a member of the alliance.
US and European leaders should make it clear that the Turkish president's behavior undermines NATO's collective security and is willing to impose & # 8220; consequences & # 8221; if it continues, the Bloomberg agency emphasizes in its analysis.
According to Bloomberg, Erdogan's apparent objection to the accession of Finland and Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is that the Nordic countries are sheltering separatists from Turkey's Kurdish minorities, including some terrorist groups. Ankara has complained for years that its enemies easily find refuge among its friends, including NATO members.
At a meeting of NATO ambassadors on Wednesday, Turkey refused to sign the acceptance of the candidacies of Finland and Sweden, a necessary step in the accession process. The rules of the alliance require the unanimous approval of all new applications, which essentially gives each of the 30 members the right to veto.
As Erdogan had previously told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that Ankara would welcome Helsinki's request, his threat to veto Turkey smells of opportunism. Erdogan insists that not only Finns and Swedes fight Kurdish activism, but other NATO member states do the same. Most importantly, he wants to lift restrictions on the supply of state-of-the-art military equipment to Turkey, restrictions that come as a result of his own decision to buy Russian missile defense systems that could jeopardize the alliance's military capabilities.
< p> This is not the first time
This is not the first time Turkey has threatened to disrupt NATO's overall security plans if its narrow interests are not served. Two years ago, he held a NATO defense plan for Poland and the Baltic states for several months, urging member states to take action against a Syrian Kurdish group critical of the fight against Islamic State.
Erdogan backed down then, and he may well do it again on the issue of NATO enlargement. But NATO cannot afford to subject itself to Erdogan's repeated aggression. A protracted approval process for Finland and Sweden could leave both countries vulnerable to Russian intimidation, as they will not fall under NATO's collective security umbrella until they formally join. And given Vladimir Putin's increasingly unpredictable behavior, the alliance is certain to face more frequent crises in which it must act swiftly and decisively.
US President Joe Biden has asked Congress to approve the sale of weapons and equipment upgrades to US-made F-16 fighter jets in Turkey. It should announce that such transfers will stop if Ankara tries to delay or derail the accession process for Finland and Sweden, Bloomberg writes, adding: NATO exercises should be kept to a minimum and Erdogan should be relegated to the second row – literally and figuratively – at alliances of alliance leaders.
Consider tougher punishments
If mild reprimands do not change Erdogan's behavior, tougher punishments should be considered. NATO rules do not allow the expulsion of a member, but Erdogan's deliberate contempt for the collective good suggests the need to reconsider those rules.
While Erdogan may react by threatening to expel Turkey from NATO , is unlikely to do so. First, the miserable state of his country's economy leaves no room for permanent rupture with the West, he also faces re-election next year and can not afford to cause more pain to his people. For some, Russia's poor performance in the war is a reminder that Turkey is better served by its alliance with the West rather than Putin.
NATO's message to Erdogan must be simple : Team safety should not be held hostage by a repeat offender. Now is the time to get the message across, Bloomberg concludes.