From Wikipedia, 1739 in Sweden

Sweden form an alliance with the Ottoman Empire against the Empire of Russia. This is the first alliance between the Ottoman Empire and a Christian nation.

(This last sentence is wrong, Wikipedia wrong again... see a comment below: [Franco-Ottoman alliance](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Ottoman_alliance; but the Wikipedia mistake does not change the question in its core.)

(I thought it is needless to say that the treaty is not alive anymore, but you never know)

If you try to find historical hints, this old treaty could (wrongly or rightly, that is the question here) be seen as a symbol of a sort of bilateral NATO history of Turkey and Sweden against Russia. The nowadays understanding in the media can be read as if the NATO is only to defend against Russia, and that the NATO partnership of Sweden and Turkey can be mildly seen as a follow-up from old times.

Is this not a politico-juridical misunderstanding? The long-term aim of the NATO was the integration of Russia to reach a safe NATO area, and with the actions of the US, its aim has shifted against Russia, but the contract has not changed. The US let Turkey into the NATO in 1952 for a better stand against Russia, the cold war stressed Russia as the enemy, but the aim of the NATO was different. Without the doubtful US influence with its fight for democratic values and against communism, Russia likely would not be dangerous enough for Sweden today to make Sweden try to join the NATO in 2022.

If a treaty was not meant to be as the one it has been taken for, could the NATO of today still be seen as a sort of follow-up of the 1739 Swedish-Ottoman alliance? From a political juridical viewpoint for Sweden. Wrong or right? And why?

  • 4
    I find this whole question hard to understand. But to pick on on thing "The aim of the NATO was the integration of Russia" - No, the aim of NATO was to prevent the expansion of the Soviet Union. . . The 1739 treaty would seem to be completely irrelevant to today, unless you know otherwise.
    – James K
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 22:45
  • 4
    "old treaty was said to be a symbol of a sort of bilateral NATO history" .... Said by whom?
    – James K
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 23:06
  • 1
    Is the treaty even valid with the Empire of Russia being lost to history?
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 23:09
  • I’m voting to close this question because this is a history Q. Not only is Russian Empire gone, so is Ottoman. And today's Erdogan is, comparatively, buds with Russia. Or at least neutral. And, yah, what, 283 years ago? How on earth would that be political? Next up - "consider current UK - US relations in the context of the 1812 War". Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 18:13
  • 2
    "This is the first alliance between the Ottoman Empire and a Christian nation." - No, it is not. Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 9:40

2 Answers 2



Sweden and Finland do not want to join NATO because Turkey is in it. One might even go as far as saying that they want to join it despite Turkey's membership. Sweden and Finland want to join NATO because other members, from Norway and Denmark to Poland and Germany and of course the US are in it. Drawing this kind of parallel is looking for correlation without causation.

The purpose of NATO, by the way, is collective security and the protection of liberty, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the member states. These values are understood to mean a market economy, among other things, which puts NATO on a collision course with Russia and China as they are currently constituted. Russia cannot remain an autocracy and get friendly with NATO.

  • Such wrong talk about that old treaty happens, and I see this talk as a misunderstanding, therefore I tried to provoke your answer to make this clear. Yet, though your answer seems to clean up in the right way, it has again something I would not be too sure of: "and of course the US" is likely a wrong wording or even wrong as such. Among the ever growing mainstream (far) right voices of Europe, the multi-ethnical and therefore mainly value-driven but elsewise unrooted US are not welcome.
    – ETathome
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 18:29
  • Moreover, right voices dislike the NATO because of Turkey and the US. It is the US who have pushed Turkey into the NATO and are its main partner since then, while Turkey was a European enemy throughout most of its history, it invaded the lands and is not seen as European even by the "non-right mainstream". The right wing of Europe is rather against Turkey than Russia, if only one of the two was to be chosen. Many "mainstream right-wing" voices are pro-Russian and see the Ukraine as influenced by the US.
    – ETathome
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 18:29

The question is about whether the treaty is wrongly seen in line with the NATO. In the NATO treaty, Russia is not named. Anything about Russia is not in the contract, but in the political aims of the time. The contract aim is Russia-neutral: "They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area."

The aim was integration, the political and military means are not set as such against Russia. It is a wide-spread misbelief that the NATO was meant to see Russia only as an enemy even on the long run, which would not be safe and would therefore be against the aims of the contract. The long run aim was to be safe in the NATO area, and one good way to reach this aim was seen to be integration. And it was mainly the US that drove NATO against Russia as it is now. It was their strange step to take Turkey into this Europe/North America alliance.

If the NATO does not lead to the aim of the NATO treaty, and if Russia could also be a NATO member without making the NATO strictly unneeded, it is wrong to say that the NATO membership of both Sweden and Turkey would take up old historical roots from 1739 when Sweden and the Ottoman Empire secured themselves against Russia.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .