Name? Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Westphalian identity? Turkish
Why is he in the news? President Recep Erdoğan of Türkiye, President Niinistö of Finland and Prime Minister Andersson of Sweden met in Madrid yesterday. In that meeting, the leaders agreed to a trilateral memorandum to address Türkiye’s security concerns concerning Finland and Sweden, paving the way for their NATO membership.
Why do we care? A victory for Erdoğan and his ruling AK Party among nationalist Turkish voters, as they prepare for a difficult election likely to come in mid-2023. The Turkish President managed to convince Sweden and Finland to renounce the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a radical Kurdish group that has fought decades of insurgency against Turkey, and the closely related Kurdish militia in Syria. Furthermore, they agreed to lift their arms embargo against Turkey and “address” Turkey’s requests for the extradition and deportation of Kurdish activists as well as amend laws to facilitate the extradition of terrorism suspects.
Why should you care? The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to influence us every day. Finland and Sweden have given up their historic neutrality in the global reordering; historic agreements such as the Helsinki Accords were only possible with the help of neutral nations. You should care 8/10 about fewer neutral countries that could mediate between NATO and Russia in the future.
Who else cares? NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He managed to increase NATO’s size with two new members painfully close to Russia’s border showing force against Putin. But he also avoided Türkiye, one of NATO’s most volatile members, to drift further towards Russia due to Erdoğan’s grievance over NATO’s lack of support with the Kurdish problem and Syria.
Any further comments? By the way, in case you are confused why we write about Türkiye and no longer Turkey, a few weeks ago Erdoğan decided to officially change the country’s name’s spelling, dropping the version that was often confused with the famous Thanksgiving meal.