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Opinion
The Editors

NATO Shouldn’t Let Erdogan Delay Expansion

In blocking membership for Sweden and Finland, Turkey’s leader is putting his political self-interest over the alliance’s security. 

Despite Sweden’s concessions, Erdogan wants more.

Despite Sweden’s concessions, Erdogan wants more.

Photographer: Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua via Getty Images

Since jointly applying to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last spring, Sweden and Finland have received near-unanimous approval from the alliance’s 30 member states. Yet their admission is being held up by a single recalcitrant country making specious demands: Turkey. NATO needs to put a stop to this dispute and welcome its newest members unreservedly.

In his latest fit of pique, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that, due to the recent burning of a copy of the Koran by a Danish far-right activist near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, the Nordic countries “will not see any support from us on the NATO issue.” Because enlarging the alliance requires unanimous agreement, Turkey seems to think it has leverage to extort fellow member states. In exchange for accepting the Swedish and Finnish membership bids, Erdogan has issued a range of demands — most of them directed at Sweden, which Turkey has long criticized for giving shelter to Kurdish separatists. In particular, Turkey wants Sweden to restrict the activities of political groups it accuses of being aligned with Kurdish militants, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a terrorist organization.