Sweden to join Nato: what to make of Ankara's yes?

The news came on the eve of the Nato summit in Vilnius on 11 July: Turkey had announced it would no longer block Sweden's accession. After a lengthy discussion with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President Erdoğan declared that he would submit the accession protocol to the Turkish parliament for ratification as soon as possible. Commentators analyse Turkey's position.

Open/close all quotes
El País (ES) /

Erdoğan no longer respects Putin

For El País Turkey is clearly on a westward course:

“The alliance is now more united and much stronger thanks to the strategic foundation provided by control over the entire Scandinavian Peninsula. ... Erdoğan is moving away from the Kremlin and towards the White House. ... Besides giving his permission for Sweden to join he has given the Russian president a few unpleasant surprises. He released five Ukrainian commanders whom Putin had transferred to Turkey to be held there until the end of the war at Erdoğan's request. And he has guaranteed the continuation of grain transport in the Black Sea, albeit under the exclusive protection of the Turkish fleet. Translated from Turkish into Russian: he no longer has any respect for Putin.”

Sözcü (TR) /

He had no choice

Erdoğan could not stall on the Sweden issue any longer, Sözcü surmises:

“Anyone who witnessed what state the Turkish economy was in and Erdoğan's political stalemate could see that the statements he made during the election process were purely strategic, and that he would do exactly the opposite once it was over. They would have seen that Turkey's good relations with the Gulf states and Russia would not be enough to get Turkey back on track. It was perfectly clear that Turkey's long-term political and economic interests require it to remain on the Euro-Atlantic axis.”

Artı Gerçek (TR) /

No time for dreams

For the website Artı Gerçek, which is critical of the government, Sweden wanting to help improve relations between the EU and Turkey is just a bad joke:

“In reports published in 2022 by independent international organisations which base themselves on universal values, Turkey hit rock bottom in all areas. The country is a disgrace, a bad example for the civilised world, for the league of democratic countries. In the eyes of the world it belongs to the category of gang and rogue states. ... The dream of entering the European Union is a task for the post-Erdoğan era. Sweden should not forget that.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Now it's all up to Stockholm

The last-minute agreement resembles the situation before the Nato summit in 2022, Hürriyet recalls:

“Ankara's statements forcefully emphasised that until the last moment Sweden had not fulfilled its obligations under last year's Madrid Agreement. But despite all its negative statements, Ankara showed considerable flexibility and in a surprise move the agreement was announced on the eve of the summit. Was all this ultimately just a tactic for upping the pressure on Sweden? ... Or was it concluded that it would be better to resolve the issue? ... The question now is whether the Swedish government will take further steps to satisfy Ankara.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

The West benefits most from this deal

This was a stroke of diplomatic genius by Stoltenberg, notes Ozan Demircan, Handelsblatt's Turkey correspondent:

“Not only has he brought Sweden into Nato, the Nato Secretary General has also effectively tied Erdoğan, who will rule Turkey for at least five more years, to the West. No one need fear that Turkey will become the largest EU member in terms of population tomorrow. The mills in Brussels' grind slowly. ... What the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, promised Erdoğan before the breakthrough [namely possibilities for closer cooperation] has already been set out in a Council protocol since the end of June. ... In the end, the deal with Erdoğan benefits both Nato and the EU far more than Erdoğan.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Ankara a crucial link in the chain

Turkey has become a key player, Le Soir notes:

“Ankara has become indispensable, not least because it is one of the few capitals (if not the only one) that has managed to play the role of mediator between Russia and Ukraine. A case in point is the grain agreement (which is about to expire) between Moscow and Kyiv, designed to prevent famine in the most vulnerable countries. This agreement was concluded in Turkey (under the auspices of the UN). The war in Ukraine is far from over. And this key military partner of Nato still has many moves to make.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

The Kremlin's worst nightmare

The Baltic is becoming a Nato-controlled inland waterway, La Repubblica concludes:

“All access points to St. Petersburg are controlled by Atlantic countries. This is the Kremlin's worst nightmare. Moreover, the forces led by [Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces] Micael Bydén are small but highly respected. They are fully mechanised and equipped with 120 Leopard 2 tanks and 500 CV90 Swedish-designed tanks. ... The Swedish air force has nearly a hundred Saab Jas 39 Gripen fighter aircraft and the navy has three Gotland submarines and seven frigates, five of which are stealth boats. The domestic arms industry builds and exports everything: missiles, aircraft, guns, ships, armoured vehicles. And the country is a leader in cybertechnology.”

Politiken (DK) /

Enormous progress

Politiken explains the implications of the decision, also for Denmark:

“Sweden's Nato membership is a huge geopolitical and military step forward for the West as well as for the Nordic countries and Denmark. Instead of being a frontline country against Russia in the Baltic Sea, Denmark will represent a new form of hinterland on the new military-strategic maps and political positions. ... The fact that Nato is completing its line of defence against Russia on Lithuanian soil occupied by the Soviet Union in World War II carries its own symbolic narrative. A narrative that nurtures the belief that freedom will triumph over coercion, democracy over autocracy, community over isolation.”

Pravda (SK) /

A boost for Vilnius

Turkey's approval of Sweden's accession has got the summit off to a good start, comments Pravda:

“President Erdoğan decided he had made the most out of his position and gave Swedish membership his blessing. This strengthens Nato as the guarantor of our security with the outstanding army and fleet of the Nordic lion. The Nato summit has thus been given a positive boost. The question is how this will develop into a common stance on Ukraine's membership. ... With its accession once the war ends we would achieve a sustainable peace.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

More deterrence and an ace up its sleeve

El Periódico de Catalunya also sees the summit producing positive results:

“Although there will be no accession for Ukraine, the news that Turkey's veto has been lifted has been the headline news of the summit. ... Erdoğan did not do this out of altruism but for very pragmatic reasons such as Washington freeing the way for Turkey to modernise its F-16 fleet, giving the green light for it to buy new aircraft, and also the signing of a bilateral security pact with Sweden, thus establishing coordinated counter-terrorism within the Nato framework. ... Nato has managed to enhance its defence by deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic region while keeping an ace up its sleeve: Ukraine's membership, which it can use as a bartering chip depending on how the war progresses.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Erdoğan's final move

Everything has turned out well in the end, observes La Libre Belgique:

“Some feared that Erdoğan would open a new round of surreal demands and that he would undermine Nato enlargement - and thus Nato unity - at a key moment in history. But in the end, this will have been the final episode of Erdoğan's show - this was also the version favoured by Olaf Scholz and Jens Stoltenberg, who were optimistic on Monday about the negotiations leading to a favourable outcome. Ankara has kept Nato and Sweden on tenterhooks while also obtaining a positive signal from the EU at the last minute.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Sweden must remain Sweden

Despite its imminent accession to Nato Stockholm should continue to be a voice for disarmament, says Aftonbladet:

“We must continue to be a voice for non-proliferation and for new agreements that place limits on existing nuclear weapons. We must continue to be a voice for diplomacy, for negotiations in international conflicts and in prevention work. We must help others, both in acute crises and in the long term, and work for fairer trade. And we must stand up for what is right, for human rights, the rule of law, democracy and the rights of minorities. Sweden's voice in Nato must not be silenced.”