The NATO summit in Madrid was solely concentrated on Turkey’s objections toward Sweden and Finland’s membership, and after an hourslong meeting between the three countries hosted by NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Ankara signed a trilateral memorandum and lifted its veto over the two Nordic countries’ bid to join the alliance.
Is it a diplomatic success for Turkey? Did it get what it wanted or step back from its demands? First of all, let’s start by saying that the agreement between the three countries and the lifting of the veto ended a weekslong dispute. The result is definitely a victory for NATO. The security alliance is much stronger and more unified now. Only a couple of years ago its existence was in dispute; now with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO is far more united.
The agreement signed between Turkey, Sweden and Finland came after four hours of talks in Madrid. The deal involves Sweden intensifying work on Turkish extradition requests of suspected fighters and amending Swedish and Finnish laws concerning their approach to the terrorists.
I think the most important outcome of the deal is the lifting of the arms and weapons embargo imposed by Sweden and Finland on Turkey.
In the agreement, Sweden and Finland also promised to collaborate against the PKK, its Syrian offshoot the YPG and names associated with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). So, although the YPG is not directly labeled as a terrorist group, it is mentioned in the same text as the PKK and is connected to terrorist activities while FETÖ is affiliated with terror for the first time in an international agreement of this kind.
Because of these reasons, Turkey calls the agreement a triumph, and I agree because, first of all, the arms embargo and the restriction on the Turkish defense industry have been lifted and, secondly, the PKK-affiliated terrorists who engaged in terror activities will be handed over to Turkey. In addition, although there are ambiguities in the text, the YPG and FETÖ appeared in the agreement so there is a framework of approval for Ankara's claims.
Stoltenberg said NATO’s leaders would issue a formal invitation to Finland and Sweden to join the alliance. However, the process will probably take months since the two countries need approval from all the NATO member states.
So the process continues. Meanwhile, Turkey will monitor whether the promises are being kept. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan especially emphasized their pledge to extradite 73 terrorists. He also added that the agreement is a “diplomatic victory” for Turkey.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said that Erdoğan is referring to cases that had already been processed by officials and the courts. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson also said that they would like to cooperate more closely with Turkey in the fight against the PKK.
So in the end, Turkey seems to have got most of what it wanted: a clear position against the PKK, promises to cooperate against the YPG and FETÖ, and the lifting of the arms and defense industry embargoes. I think that it has been a win-win situation. Turkey has won by sharing its concerns with Sweden and Finland, NATO has won by becoming more united and expanding. I believe that Russia can be labeled as the loser since it prompted the NATO front to become more of a mono-bloc with its invasion of Ukraine.