Erdoğan: yes to Finland, no to Sweden?
Turkey's President Erdoğan has said he can imagine agreeing to Finland joining Nato but remains tough on Sweden. "If necessary, we can give a different answer regarding Finland," he said. Relations between Sweden and Turkey have further deteriorated after a protester burned a copy of the Koran in Stockholm. Commentators speculate on what Erdoğan's intentions are and discuss how to react.
Keep a cool head
Finland should not let Erdoğan dictate what happens in the accession debate, warns Ilta-Sanomat:
“Erdoğan was probably trying to drive a wedge between Finland and Sweden in the joint accession process with his warnings and hints over the weekend, but we must not allow ourselves to become pawns in this power game. Of course, there must also be an open and objective discussion in Finland about the Nato accession process - and now also about the fact that it is taking longer than initially assumed. But this debate must be conducted with cool composure according to Finnish ideas - and the conclusions and solutions must be based on Finnish terms, not Erdoğan's.”
Nato blockade as campaign tactic
El País rakes the Turkish president over the coals:
“Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is playing on nationalist and religious sentiments to stir up his electorate, even at the cost of blocking Sweden's and Finland's accession to Nato. ... Erdoğan's claims ignore the fundamental rights of freedom of assembly, demonstration and expression that characterise Sweden and Finland. ... It doesn't make sense that a single act of religious profanity or a pro-Kurdish demonstration trigger Turkey's right to veto Nato expansion at such a critical moment. ... Nato must offer Sweden and Finland sufficient guarantees as long as an autocrat like Erdoğan is using the organisation as leverage for his election campaign.”
Doing Moscow another favour
Erdoğan is taking advantage of the situation in two ways, notes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
“On the one hand, his claim that he is taking a tough and non-negotiable stance against the (alleged) terrorist threat posed by Turks in Sweden goes down well at home; even the opposition can't argue against this. On the other hand, with his concession to Finland, he is trying to appease the hostility he increasingly faces from other Nato countries. What is not being discussed in Turkey is the fact that Erdoğan is doing Moscow a favour by trying to split Nato.”
Stockholm needs a clear Plan B
What will happen if Erdoğan refuses to agree to Sweden's accession even after the election in Turkey, Dagens Nyheter asks:
“We have received extensive promises of protection, including from the United States. A Russian attack without Nato intervention is unthinkable, [Nato Secretary General] Stoltenberg declared. But Nato is not just about formalities. What is done in practice is just as important: joint defence planning. Joint exercises. That gives security guarantees their bite. ... The government needs a clear idea of what the path to Nato should look like if we are indeed left out [even after the election].”