Türkiye – NATO Relations: Time to Harmonise Perspectives on Terrorism

    Established in 1949, the North At-antic Treaty Organisation (NATO) proved the most durable security alliance that prevented the possibility of a third world war for more than seven decades. As a significant actor geopolitically, Türkiye became a member of the alliance in 1952. Contrary to expectations, NATO’s importance did not dwindle after the end of the Cold War. The alliance managed to reformulate its role and strategy. Subsequently, the alliance witnessed the fourth and fifth rounds of enlargement in 1999 and 2004, in which ten new members joined the alliance. These moves aimed at integrating the previous USSR satellites into its “protective umbrella”.

    With the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine War on February 20, 2022, two Nordic countries, Finland and Sweden, applied for a fast-track NATO membership. Finland has had significant national security concerns because of its 1340 km border with Russia. Meanwhile, Nordic countries have seen their geostrategic importance multiplied given the rising threats from Russia. Such a renewed relevance played a big role in boosting their NATO membership bid among most members. However, Hungary and Türkiye opposed these applications. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán stated that the Hungarian Parliament would ratify the membership protocols soon. Ankara is supportive in principle but has long-standing legitimate demands for its national security that are yet to be met by Finland and Sweden.

    The trilateral memorandum signed between Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden during the NATO Madrid Summit in June 2022 was a significant step towards reconciling views around terrorist actors, such as PKK/YPG/PYD and FETO. The memorandum indicates that the three signatories support commitments in areas such as information and intelligence sharing, removal of arms embargoes and legal constraints. However, recent developments have shown that there is still a long way to go. This paper examines Türkiye – NATO relations, focusing on the Nordic NATO membership bids.

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