On his return flight from Hungary, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s conditional support for Sweden’s NATO membership, signalling another attempt to gain new concessions from the West. He also firmly rejected any blame over Sunday’s assault on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Northern Cyprus, which left one injured.
Regarding Sweden’s NATO membership, President Erdoğan stated, “The presentation of Sweden’s accession protocols to the Parliament and the swift approval of this process are directly correlated to Sweden’s faithfulness to its commitments.” He further added that the situation in Stockholm’s streets must be contained, referring to the recent Quran burning incidents in the Nordic country. Following his ultra-nationalist ally, Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli’s strong opposition to Sweden’s NATO membership, equating Stockholm with a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) stronghold and questioning how Turkey could accept such a situation, President Erdoğan stated that he would not take any action until discussing the matter with Bahçeli and other friends within the People’s Alliance.
Upon returning from his visit to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Erdoğan convened the cabinet and addressed the incident in Northern Cyprus on 18 August. This incident involved Turkish forces undertaking unauthorised road construction in the village of Pile on the occupied side of the island, leading to a confrontation with UN Peacekeeping Forces (UNPF). The situation escalated when a UN vehicle was dragged by a bulldozer operated by Turkish forces, causing minor injuries. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the Turkish side for the assault, to which Turkey responded by condemning the UN. “UNPF soldiers’ physical intervention in the sovereign territory of the TRNC is not acceptable. Blocking the Cypriot Turks from accessing their own lands in Pile village is neither legal nor humane,” Erdoğan said, firmly rejecting any blame over Sunday’s incident.
President Erdoğan’s diplomatic engagements continue, with scheduled appearances at the G20 Summit in New Delhi and the UN General Assembly in New York. These meetings come at a time when Turkey faces international pressures and economic challenges that make it difficult for Erdoğan to negotiate from a position of strength.