“Turkey is forever searching for supporters in its policy of hostility to the Kurds. And now its opposition to these two countries’ membership of NATO has come onto the agenda,” writes Elif Sonzamancı for Yeni Özgür Politika.
The desire to strengthen NATO and gain new member countries has gained prominence with the outbreak of the Ukrainian-Russian war. This is how the membership requests of the Scandinavian countries Sweden and Finland came into being, and the two countries made their applications in the shadow of the discussions.
I say ‘in the shadow of the discussions’, because the word ‘discussion’ becomes prominent where Turkey is involved. In order for the two countries to become members there must be unanimous approval from the NATO member countries. But Erdoğan stated that Turkey will not say yes to the applications of the two countries, although there are no valid grounds for refusing these applications. Erdoğan, who frequently plays the refugee card to gain concessions from Europe, is pushing further his demands regarding the Kurds. Thus in the NATO membership discussions, he is demanding an end of support for Western Kurdistan (Rojava) and the People’s Defence Units (YPG), and the extradition of 33 people from Finland and Sweden.
We are told that [Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt] Çavuşoğlu handed a list to Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde during an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers organised in Berlin last week. Some of these names were released by the media as breaking news. Following this, the two countries announced that the people Turkey had asked for were not going to be extradited. But Erdoğan persists in bringing the matter back onto the agenda.
It is not new for Turkey to come as it did to Berlin with this list. It extends the list to Europe at every opportunity. It is known that once upon a time Erdoğan presented Angela Merkel with a file with 4,000 names in it. With time that list came to include 4,500 names. Whenever he wanted to barter for something Erdoğan would remind her of this file, which aimed at pretty much all of the Kurds. The activities of the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT) have long been discussed, and we recall that lists prepared by MİT itself were uncovered one by one.
The first of these scandalous lists, the list given to the head of the German Federal Intelligence Service, Bruno Kahl by the Undersecretary for MİT Hakan Fidan during the Munich Conference in February 2017, went onto the agenda of the Internal Affairs Commission of the Federal Council on 26 April 2017, and was uncovered when the lists of Kurds living in Germany being watched by MİT were revealed. The lists included not just home addresses, but telephone numbers and information about their daily lives. The lists were certainly not restricted to these, it has been revealed that lists have been handed to the German state on numerous occasions. Plans to assassinate Kurdish politicians have also been reported in the press. There are many related lists.
Turkey is forever searching for supporters for its policy of hostility towards the Kurds. And now its opposition to these two countries’ membership of NATO has come onto the agenda.
Recently, Çavuşoğlu met with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and expressed Erdoğan’s demands verbally. Then the leaders of Finland and Sweden met with President Biden at the White House, and after this meeting it was expressed that they were seemingly in agreement to eliminating Turkey’s security concerns.
We are going through a very tense process, the Kurds should not be a bargaining chip in this process. Naturally one aspect of Erdoğan’s response to NATO can be read as an investment in the election. But we should be aware that the matter contains much deeper strategies. In a case like this every concession made to Erdoğan will create a further security problem. Turkey’s request to be an ambassador for peace between Ukraine and Russia should not be misinterpreted, because society continues to be corrupted by the administration baying for war and its policies of occupation.