06/29/2022, 10.41
TURKEY
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Janus-faced Erdogan haggles with NATO and Moscow

by Marta Ottaviani

Ankara lifts its veto on the entry of Sweden and Finland into the Atlantic Alliance. In return it gets maximum cooperation in the fight against Kurdish groups, from the PKK to the Ypg. The domestic press celebrates the West's surrender to the president's demands as he continues to negotiate with the Kremlin to operate in Syria. For the sultan, a diplomatic victory ahead of the 2023 presidential election. 

Milan (AsiaNews) - More than a NATO member, Turkey, through its Janus-faced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is ready to create potentially tense situations in order to raise the stakes in international policy that is beginning to affect, and no small way, the Crescent's Moon's precarious economic situation. Moreover,  it also helps in the run-up to next year's elections.

The latest episode is the filibuster placed before Finland and Sweden's entry into their NATO bid, which, as Brussels put it, was resolved with a historic agreement. Read by Ankara is a surrender of the Atlantic Pact across the board that will have serious repercussions on the credibility of the institution and highlights, once again, how weak and surrendering the West is to the Sultan. 

After a four-way meeting in Madrid on the eve of the NATO summit starting today, Turkey decided to officially lift its veto. Erdogan held discussions for more than four hours with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Margaret Andersson.

To summarize, on an official level, Turkey lifts its veto on the two countries' candidacy and brings home a commitment from Helsinki and Stockholm to combat Kurdish-based terrorism, which will be explored in following up on Ankara's requests for the extradition of suspected Pkk and Ypg members, as well as hindering the financing and recruitment of these two organizations on their home territories. Not only that. Sweden and Finland undertake to introduce restrictions on arms sales to Kurdish armed groups. These are the official agreements.

Then there are the indirect spillovers, and these too are all in favor of Ankara, which, prior to this meeting, knocked hard not only on Brussels' door but also on Washington's. U.S. administration officials made it clear again yesterday that the agreement reached in Madrid has nothing to do with the likely sale of F-16s, the lifting of sanctions to which Turkey was subjected after purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia, and the coveted readmission into the F-35 program. 

Today, however, on the sidelines of the summit, he will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden, and it is a safe bet that, even then, he will arrive with a hefty list of demands. 

This is what Erdogan has gotten from the West. But two-faced Janus has seen fit to go and present his demands to the Russian side as well. The announcement of yet another cross-border operation against the Syrian Kurds after initiating "mediation" between Russia and the West on the issue of Ukrainian grain exports has not escaped anyone's notice. 

Turkish newspapers rejoice. Erdogan is the winner across the board and scores an important point ahead of next year's election campaign. 

In a broader perspective, NATO has chosen the lesser evil: to please the Turkish autocrat in exchange for a broadening of the anti-Russian front. Forgetting, perhaps too casually, that Erdogan is allied only with himself and that in the Atlantic Alliance he acts more like a thorn in the side than a strategic partner. Then there would also be the question of the founding values of the West, again largely cast aside in the face of the Turkish president's demands.  

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