Russia’s attempt to invade Ukraine turned Europe’s perception of security upside down. Countries that have pursued a pacifist and neutral foreign policy for several years are now on alert. Among them are Sweden and Finland. These two countries quickly found a solution to Russian aggression by entering under the NATO umbrella.
However, it did not take long for them to realize that things would not go as quickly and easily as they expected. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that “if Sweden and Finland do not take steps in the fight against terrorism, there will be no membership” echoed in many capitals, and it still echoes.
At first, the explanations came from the West, which escaped the “cancelable” convenience. But Erdoğan’s steadfast position behind his statement and his uncompromising attitude despite all the pressure once again revealed the Western leaders.
Initially, the statements “we understand Turkey’s security problems” came one by one. The race to “understand Turkey” reached its peak with the message “we must sit down with Turkey” from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. And finally, the Finnish and Swedish delegation went to Ankara, despite Erdoğan saying “do not come again.”
First and foremost, the foreign press has said that Sweden’s relationship with terrorist organizations is more prominent than Finland’s in Ankara’s eyes. That is precisely why I want to open a special parenthesis for Finland.
When you add up the border lengths of NATO member states towards Russia, you can see that it is 115 kilometers (72 miles) shorter than the Finnish-Russian border. The possibility of Finland’s entry into NATO, which has a total border of 1,340 kilometers, worries Russia even more. But since Sweden’s support for the terrorist duo PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) is much greater, neither why we are opposed to the possibility of Finland’s membership in our country nor our demands were expressed very much.
Let me give you an example. Turkey demanded the extradition of 12 people linked to terrorist organizations from Finland; six of them are FETÖ members and the other six are from the PKK. It started the process with Sweden regarding the extradition of 21 people, of whom 10 were FETÖ members and 11 were PKK terrorists. However, none of the 33 requests for extradition, which were made in line with court decisions and evidence, received a positive response. While 19 of the extradition requests were rejected, five of them were left unanswered by the two countries in the process. The process for nine extradition petitions, two with Finland and seven with Sweden, is still ongoing.
Although Finland does not openly sponsor the PKK as Sweden, there is a problem between the two countries within the framework of extradition. Let me also remind you: Finland, like Sweden, was one of the countries that stopped military exports to Turkey and imposed an embargo during Operation Peace Spring, which we started in 2019 to clear the PKK / YPG elements in Syria, during Antti Rinne’s premiere period. Ministry of Finland.
However, it must be acknowledged that another feature that distinguishes Finland from Sweden is their knowledge of the art of diplomacy. Because instead of making harsh statements such as “strong countries are behind us, it would be in Turkey’s interest to recruit us” as the Swedish Foreign Minister, they showed a more conciliatory attitude.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, for example, contented himself with saying that “Finland’s national team in the fight against terrorism is being discussed and it is hopeful” in a telephone conversation between the presidents of Finland and Turkey. He also pointed out that his country can give assurances to Turkey that the links with the terrorist organization PKK will be monitored more closely, adding: “We can really give such guarantees to Turkey. Since the PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Europe, it is to not allow terrorist activities in Finland as well. It is important that we do our part, “he added.
On the other hand, as Erdoğan said, Turkey must see concrete action taken rather than diplomatic statements. In this respect, Finland should also listen to the legitimate requirements and meet them, without being deceived that the chances of being admitted to membership seem to be greater than Sweden. Because you can not both want to be under the most comprehensive security umbrella that a country is a member of and ignore the country’s national security requirements.
The recent delegation meetings in Ankara were the first part of a long-standing shuttle diplomacy in which Stoltenberg was expected to participate in the future. What Turkey wants, what it objects to and its position are clear. Now the ball is in Sweden, Finland and the West.