The arrival of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Washington has reignited hopes in Sweden and Finland. Since last summer, the two Scandinavian countries have been waiting for the Ankara parliament to ratify their NATO membership. Without the OK of all members of the Atlantic Alliance, the two aspiring NATO countries are destined to remain permanent candidates. Thus, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s invitation to his Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu was welcomed in Washington for the first time in two years since the Biden administration took office.
On the table of the two heads of diplomacy is certainly the NATO enlargement dossier, but also that of the armaments that Turkey could not get from the USA since Ankara intervened militarily in Syria by bombing the Kurdish militias. Also irritating for the US and NATO in 2019 was the purchase of an anti-missile system from Russia. But given the new context, the Washington administration could reach a compromise.
F-16 military jets are at the top of the Ankara government’s wish list. Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO prompted the US Congress to rule out selling powerful fighter-bombers to the country. US lawmakers could change their minds if Ankara committed to bringing the two Scandinavian states into the Atlantic Pact, and the deal were accompanied by the human rights guarantees Congress has been demanding from Turkey for years.
However, it is not certain that the Turkish government will accept such a compromise. “If the United States were to tell us that in order to get F-16 jets from the US, we have to ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, that would lead us to an impasse,” said the deputy chairman of the affairs committee Portal News Agency Affairs of the Turkish Parliament, Berat Conkar.
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On the US side, too, it should not be assumed that Congress will give the green light to a possible exchange between Jets and Biden-signed alliances. “Repeated attacks on our Syrian-Kurdish allies and the continued rapprochement with Russia, as well as the delay in Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, remain serious concerns,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said. “For Turkey to get the F-16, we need assurances that these concerns will be addressed,” the congressman added ahead of Blinken-Cavusoglu’s scheduled talks today.