Erdogan fury as US ties F-16 sale to Sweden’s NATO bid

Ankara (Caasimada Online) – President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey expressed his dissatisfaction with the conditions laid out by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.

The crux of the matter? Biden’s administration seems to be intertwining the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey with Ankara’s ratification of Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

“After our ‘pull-aside’ discussion with Biden during the G20 summit in New Delhi, it’s clear that the U.S. is connecting the F-16 supply to Turkey’s stance on Sweden’s NATO application,” Erdogan stated.

In October 2021, Turkey showed interest in purchasing $20 billion worth of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-16s and almost 80 modernization kits for their current fleet to provide a clearer picture. Turkey had also been a significant roadblock for Sweden’s aspirations to join NATO.

NATO membership: Sweden’s hurdles

Sweden and Finland had expressed interest in joining NATO last year, primarily driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Finland’s application smoothly made its way through, Sweden’s bid faced obstacles, specifically from Turkey and Hungary.

The Turkish Foreign Minister noted that Ankara and Budapest have been in tight-knit discussions regarding Sweden’s application.

Sweden’s path towards NATO had seen progress when Erdogan agreed to present Sweden’s membership application to the Turkish parliament during a NATO summit in July.

Following this, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan declared that the U.S. would consider moving forward with the F-16 sale to Turkey, but Congress would have the final say.

However, Erdogan countered, “If Congress has a say in F-16 sales, remember, Turkey too has its parliament. Without our parliament’s consent, I cannot unilaterally approve Sweden’s NATO membership.”

Tensions between Turkey and Sweden

Digging deeper into the discord between Turkey and Sweden, Ankara claims that Sweden has provided shelter to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members.

This organization is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.

“Sweden must live up to its commitments,” Erdogan remarked, implying that Sweden should make efforts, such as extraditing alleged PKK members and stopping pro-PKK rallies on its soil before Turkey can endorse its NATO application.

To soothe these apprehensions, Stockholm introduced legislation in June. This law criminalizes being a member of a terrorist group or assisting such groups logistically and financially.

Additionally, Stockholm remains hopeful, based on previous agreements, that when the Turkish parliament reconvenes in October, it will give a nod to Sweden’s NATO aspirations.