In the short term, the harsh message from Ankara hardly matters for Swedish security, says Jacob Westberg, Associate Professor of War Studies at the Swedish Defense University. But should Sweden's membership in NATO be prolonged, the assessment may be different.

Jacob Westberg, Associate Professor of War Science at the Swedish Defense College. Archive image.
Jacob Westberg, Associate Professor of War Science at the Swedish Defense College. Archive image.

Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck a hard tone against Sweden at the joint press conference in Ankara with Finland's President Sauli Niinistö.

While Finland received a Turkish thumbs up for membership, Erdogan resented Sweden, which he said had "opened its arms to terrorists." He perceives no positive signals from Sweden and intends to keep the NATO door closed for the time being.

"If anyone had hoped that there would be good news for Sweden from the press conference, they were disappointed," says Jacob Westberg to TT.

Same View

Erdogan spoke about pro-Kurdish demonstrations in Stockholm and Kurdish infiltration of the Swedish parliament. He emphatically reiterated that Sweden must extradite 124 people if Türkiye is to ratify Swedish membership.

"This question is very difficult for Sweden to do anything about because it is not the Swedish government but the Swedish courts that make decisions on these issues, Jacob Westberg points out."

"It was a very clear continued marking towards Sweden. And these things will not be easy to get fixed before the NATO summit in Vilnius on 11-12 July. In this way you can say that it looks gloomy."

Finnish aid

On the other hand, at the press conference Niinistö hoped that Sweden would also become a member before Vilnius. "It would not be complete without Sweden," according to the Finns.

"It was with reference to the need to be able to include Swedish military capabilities but also our territory within the framework of joint defense planning that NATO will begin to design the details of in Vilnius", says Jacob Westberg.

TT: How is Sweden's security affected by today's announcement?

"In the short term, it doesn't matter much. If Niinistö gets it right in his hopes that both Finland and Sweden will join us before Vilnius, it doesn't matter at all."

Decide on "terrorists"?

"If, on the other hand, there is a further delay, Sweden will be in a more difficult situation as it becomes more difficult to include cooperation with Finland in terms of collective defense and the possibility of quickly coming to Sweden's aid."

"My hope is rather that Sweden will get increased support from more NATO countries. It is not only Niinistö who wants to include Sweden in this equation, but we have a very strong support from all states in the Baltic Sea region."

TT: Is it a real possibility that Sweden's membership can ultimately really fall on the issue of extradition of "terrorists"?

"What we can say is that this argument has so far blocked Sweden," says Jacob Westberg.