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Turkey opens a crack in NATO by rejecting Finland’s accession due to its support for the Kurds

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO. / EP

The Scandinavian country would face an electricity supply cut from Russia starting this Saturday in retaliation for its approach to the Alliance

Jens Stoltenberg envisioned a completely clear path. But a handful of hours have been enough for the first dense cloud to fall on it. NATO’s secretary general on Thursday promised a “smooth and quick” accession process for Finland (and also for Sweden). He took it for granted that the thirty members of the Atlantic Alliance were celebrating, like him, an imminent expansion of historical significance that, moreover, would “strengthen” the military organization.

But Turkey, a member of the institution for seventy years, stands as the first dissenting voice. And with it a first crack opens at an unfortunate moment. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not make it so easy for the two Scandinavian countries to enter the military organization. Moreover, a priori, he opposes it. And that points to a serious problem. Because any request for integration can only materialize by full consensus and each country has the right to veto. Their national parliaments have to authorize it.

Erdogan did not express his rejection literally, but neither did he leave much room for alternative interpretations. “We are closely following the events related to Sweden and Finland and our opinion is not positive,” he said yesterday. And what reasons does he give? Purely domestic. He considers that Finland and Sweden – the same darts launched against the Netherlands and Greece – are “guest houses of many terrorist organizations”. A direct allusion to the members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the revolutionary DHKP-C, whom Ankara points to as being responsible for the guerrilla wars that have been taking place in the country since 1984. It went even further, « Some even sit in their parliaments, “he added.

Moscow considers Finland's intention to join NATO a threat

The Turkish leader did not miss the moment to attack that neighbor with which he maintains a historical disagreement, Greece. I concatenate absolutely everything. If Erdogan says that he does not want Finland and Sweden, it is because “we are not going to make the same mistake as with Greece.” It went back to 1952, the year of integration of Turkey itself and also the same year in which it gave the green light for Greece to step forward. All with the same objective: that the historical disputes between the two countries end up being diluted. “We cannot make the same mistake twice,” the president reiterated.

Question of “patience”

Whether the Turkish ‘no’ is more or less firm remains to be seen. Those themselves (Finland and Sweden) play down the drama of Erdogan’s words. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Ann Linde, hoped that, in the end, “and if we decide to enter, we will receive positive messages from all countries.” Finnish colleague, Pekka Haavisto, asked for “patience” and to proceed “step by step”, implying that dissonant notes of this type are part of a choreography that will last up to a year.

And that, although it would formally begin this weekend with the formal presentation of the request by Finland, it is already beginning to cause problems. After the threats from Moscow come the first effective reprisals against Helsinki. And it is that Finland will stop receiving Russian energy as of this Saturday. Direct blow for its rapprochement with the Atlantic Alliance. But part of a sum and continues in that fight that Moscow maintains against Europe for its support for Ukraine and its cascade of sanctions.

First it was up to Poland and Bulgaria (they did not want to pay for the gas supply in rubles), on Thursday more than 600 kilometers of Polish pipelines were ‘sealed’ so that the blue fuel would stop transiting towards Germany. And now Finland is without Russian electricity. RAO Nordic Oy, European subsidiary of the Russian energy company Inter RAO, confirmed it through its institutional website late Friday afternoon. “We are forced to suspend the import of electricity from May 14.” A situation so exceptional that it is unprecedented.

The company itself underlined it: “It is the first time that has happened in more than twenty years of our commercial history.” The reason? The lack of cash income with which to make the payments for that electricity imported from Russia. “We hope that the situation will improve soon and that electricity trade with Russia can be resumed,” added the company itself. In quantitative terms we speak of 10% of the country’s total energy needs.

Moderate restlessness. If one takes into account that the country’s electricity company (Fingrid) assured that “the missing imports” will be supplied “by importing more electricity from Sweden” and with national production. In qualitative terms, what has been said, the first retaliation.

Which, by the way, the Kremlin denied. In their own way. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, recalled that the giant Gazprom “has repeatedly demonstrated its reliability as a supplier of energy resources.” And he called the reports pointing to the Finnish energy bottleneck a “journalistic hoax.” Although he did recall that there is a new payment regime. The key is in the reviled ruble.

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