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Turkish President Erdogan plays hard: "We will not agree to Sweden and Finland joining NATO"

Turkish President Erdogan plays hard: “We will not agree to Sweden and Finland joining NATO”

Over the weekend, it seemed that Turkish soup would not be eaten hot if Erdogan served it on Friday. With his renewed and aggressive plan Monday night, the president made clear that NATO has a problem. The question is whether Erdogan is playing trick poker to get some light concessions, or whether he really wants to get in his way as long as the Swedes and Finns don’t give him way. For example, Turkey expects that both countries together will hand over a total of 33 people to the Turkish justice system.

Turkey is not only the number one country in NATO. It has the second largest army (in terms of troops) in the entire alliance, after the United States. The country’s location in the southeastern Mediterranean and adjacent to the Middle East is of paramount strategic importance. At the same time, Turkey has occasionally played the role of a jamming device within the coalition for several years now. It has – against the will of the United States – purchased the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system. In general, it maintains ambiguous relations with Russia. It regards Greece as an enemy it does not trust more than an ally (NATO) – although the opposite is also true.

Therefore, Turkish whims and obstinacy are not new. But now that NATO is in a serious confrontation with Russia and all other member states have welcomed the accession of Finland and Sweden, Erdogan is escalating internal tensions.