Recep Tayyip Erdogan is backing the issue of Sweden in Turkey's election campaign.
Now he apparently wants to split the NATO tandem with Finland.
Ankara/Munich – Sweden's NATO accession seems to have long since become a pawn in Turkey's election campaign: Recep Tayyip Erdogan fears for his office as President in Ankara - and is making a name for himself in the country, which is said to be too soft on Kurdistan issues.
On Sunday (January 29) he raised concerns about a "horrific scenario" for Stockholm.
Erdogan appeared to be making an offer to Finland, which was also willing to join.
He makes no secret of the underlying intentions.
"Sweden will be shocked": Erdogan follows up on the NATO dispute
"Sweden will be shocked if we give a different answer for Finland," said Erdogan, referring to the two Scandinavian countries' applications for NATO membership.
"If necessary, we can give a different answer regarding Finland," he said at a televised meeting with young people.
In doing so, he hinted at the possibility of agreeing to membership only for Finland.
That would increase the pressure on Sweden's government again.
In Helsinki, the news could create mixed feelings.
On the one hand, Erdogan had so far shown no willingness to pave the way for Finland to join the military alliance in the near future.
On the other hand, it is the declared will of Prime Minister Sanna Marin's government to join NATO together with Sweden.
The countries are close partners that have grown over time.
At the same time, surveys had also shown that the population wanted a joint step towards NATO.
Sweden under pressure: Erdogan insists on some questionable demands
However, it has been obvious for a long time that Erdogan has fewer problems with Finland than with Sweden.
In the summer of 2022, the three countries agreed on steps towards NATO membership.
Parts of it - such as an end to an arms embargo or a stop to cooperation with the Syrian-Kurdish militia YPG - have been implemented by Sweden.
Others not only seem politically sensitive, but sometimes even impossible to implement for a constitutional state.
For example, Erdogan had demanded the extradition of alleged "terrorists" and critics.
Among them, for example, a journalist;
a court put a stop to the request.
The man with the hammer: Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the opening of a gold mine at the end of January.
© IMAGO/Turkish presidency/apaimages
Domestic political developments in Sweden have recently provided fresh fuel.
Activists with an Erdogan doll demonstrated against the Turkish President's Kurdistan policy.
Another incident was more drastic – and in the eyes of some observers – more unnecessary from the Swedish point of view: right-wing extremists were again able to stage the burning of the Koran.
Erdogan then canceled a planned ministerial meeting and declared that Sweden could no longer hope for approval for accession.
Finland without Sweden in NATO?
Expert sees dangerous signal to Putin
Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto recently admitted that one could possibly be forced to join without Sweden.
Experts expressed skepticism to the broadcaster YLE: According to one theory, the problem could resolve itself after the Turkish elections in May.
In case of doubt, however, it would be better for only Finland to become a NATO member as both countries would remain outside, said the Finnish researcher Charly Salonius-Pasternak.
But he also warned against sending a dangerous signal to Vladimir Putin: it could give the impression that NATO principles could be torpedoed by influencing individual members.
In addition to Turkey, Hungary has yet to agree to NATO expansion.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced that the parliament in Budapest will vote next month on whether the two Nordic countries will join NATO.
fn with material from AFP
List of rubrics: © IMAGO/Turkish presidency/apaimages