Turkey could have attached the EU accession condition with Finish NATO membership.

Why has it given Finland a free pass?

  • 4
    My impression is that the Turkish President put several demands on the negotiating table, and settled for the F-16. Asking for more than he would get, to get at least something.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 16:54
  • 4
    Asking for EU accession in a NATO negotiation is like asking for a picture being nominated for an Oscar in a FIFA negotiation. They are different organizations, and even if there are countries who are member of both it's not in their power. EU accession cannot be decided in a NATO council, and it will surely be rejected just for that.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 8:57
  • 3
    Turkey hasn't "attached" an "EU accession condition". Turkey and Sweden have agreed that "Sweden will actively support efforts to reinvigorate Türkiye’s EU accession process, including modernisation of the EU-Türkiye Customs Union and visa liberalisation" (my emphasis). Note the excessive use of weasel words – in reality, Turkey isn't much closer to EU accession after this agreement than it was before (and seeing how Turkey decided to blackmail NATO, it may even have decreased the likelihood of a prospective EU membership).
    – Schmuddi
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 15:36
  • Voting not to close - this question can be answered factually by explaining the difference between EU and NATO and how the politics of both sometimes differ despite both (mostly) having common political players.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 18:10
  • @Rekesoft while the EU and NATO are different organizations, the analogy of FIFA and AMPAS is inapt because a majority of EU members are NATO members, and vice versa, while no FIFA member is a member of AMPAS -- FIFA is an association of other associations and AMPAS is an association of people. A negotiation on NATO membership certainly could include a promise to adopt a certain position in the EU, though as you are right to point out it cannot include a promise to achieve a certain result.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 12:10

2 Answers 2


There's not a lot that can be said here without reading Erdogan's mind. Turkey is pretty far from actual accession to the EU. IIRC they only managed to close one chapter (out of 30+ or so). So a much more unreasonable Erdogan could have asked for the implausible, but that would have been the same as them just rejecting Finland and Sweden's NATO membership.

Having said this, Erdogan did eventually ask [at least] for a reopening of the EU membership talks, part of his conditions for backing Sweden's membership. What he really asked for is somewhat ambiguous. The two sentences he uttered publicly asked for somewhat different things:

"Come and open the way for Turkey's membership in the European Union. When you pave the way for Turkey, we'll pave the way for Sweden as we did for Finland."

OTOH that [linking] was rejected mostly out of hand by some countries involved (Germany in particular through Olaf Scholz) and the EC. Joining the EU has rather involved legislation synchronization steps etc. Both Finland and Sweden easily met the relatively low technical bars for NATO membership, according to the press.

And if you want some background why joining the EU really is pie in the sky under Erdogan...

since the Gezi park protests in 2013 the AKP government has not been following a consistent course of Europeanization but rather has been working toward converting the political system to authoritarian presidential rule. Since the state of emergency following the thwarted coup d’état in 2016, Turkey has drifted so far from meeting the political criteria of membership that a formal halt to negotiations was demanded by the EP and several national governments. [...]

the Commission applied its standard checklist of political criteria—as documented in the annual regular reports—throughout the pre-negotiation and negotiation period in order to measure their fulfillment (see, e.g., European Commission, 2019: 9–40). Starting from the government’s reaction to the Gezi park protests in 2013, Turkey’s record on all key criteria items, such as fundamental rights, and the independence and functioning of the judiciary became increasingly negative. In 2019 the Council was ‘[…] especially concerned about the continuing and deeply worrying backsliding on the rule of law and on fundamental rights’ (Council of the EU, 2018: para. 31).

Concerns relating to Turkey’s political culture are discussed in member states and across parties, media, and the wider public. Indeed, Turkey’s candidacy has become one of the more prominent issues in the public eye (Özbey et al., 2019). According to a YouGov survey in 2016, there is distinct hostility to Turkey joining the EU. In Germany (86%), Finland (83%), Denmark (82%), France (74%), Sweden (73%), and even in the United Kingdom (67%), there are large majorities against Turkey’s accession to the EU. In these countries, even Russia would be more welcome in the EU than Turkey (YouGov, 2016).

(Yeah, that relative preference probably changed in 2022, but still I don't quite imagine the opinion about Turkey [joining] improving that much in the EU, although maybe someone can prove me wrong on that.)

FWTW, on July 18, the EP too cold-showered the Turkish demands, even on the most formal and least substantive level of reopening the suspended negotiations:

The European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee said in a statement that Ankara’s bid to join the bloc “cannot resume under the current circumstances.”

Having said all this, it could simply have been a cheap negotiation tactic to demand the pie in sky, when the actual Turkish demands/expectations might be much lower, e.g. relating to visa liberalization [with the EU], as Erdogan's chief adviser on security and foreign policy Kilic hinted on July 12.

  • Not to mention that two countries that would need to sign off on Turkey's accession to the EU, Austria and Ireland, aren't part of NATO, which made the demand a bit of a non-starter. Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 13:27
  • I'm not happy with your just "reading Erdogan" and forgetting the circumstances and strategic role of Turkey, which might let him appear as acting less accidentally. Commented May 5 at 14:16

Turkey doesn't have the means to negotiate such a thing. It would attract U.S.'s ire and Turkey cannot afford to anger the United States. This is why they didn't make such an outrageous demand. Instead, they asked Finland and Sweden to not support YPG or PYD who Turkey sees as terrorist groups.

The provisions of the agreement include guarantees that Sweden and Finland will in no way support either the YPG/PYD, a majority Kurdish militia which played a key role in defeating the so-called Islamic State in Syria, or the Gülen movement. The Swedish government also confirms in the document that it will seek to pass a new Terrorist Offences Act on July 1st and will move towards introducing new measures to combat terrorism. Stockholm will also change its arms export requirements, in order to resume supplying Ankara with weapons. In exchange, Turkey will support the efforts of the two Nordic countries to join the NATO-alliance. Members of the Swedish delegation in Madrid appeared visibly relieved by the news that Turkey’s veto had been lifted. Yet the process of going from applicant status to full-fledged membership may still be drawn out, particularly as the contents of the trilateral agreement are not legally binding and open to interpretation. Whether it will be politically acceptable in Sweden to extradite journalists and activists which Ankara considers to be terrorists remains to be seen. But the diplomatic tensions between Turkey, Sweden and Finland appear to have eased for the time being.


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