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Author: TriSec    Date: 05/17/2022 10:48:57

Good Morning.

Let's talk NATO today.

Ye Olde "North Atlantic Treaty Organization" came into being at the earliest moments of the Cold War. The original signees affixed their names to the charter on August 24, 1949.

It had not even been five years since Hitler had been defeated, and yet in that time, the "primary enemy" of the West had shifted. So much so that within seven years (1955) our former enemies in Berlin would be standing alongside us as our new allies.

Of course, the other side of the curtain didn't take this sitting down, and in 1955 the Warsaw Pact was created to counter the alliance of Western Europe. And while this is an older map, it checks out - especially the East/West divide of Germany at the time.


So let us fast-forward to today. The Warsaw Pact actually pre-deceased the Soviet Union by about ten months in 1991. Most of the member-states went their own way, but more than a handful, and many of the newly-independent former Soviet Republics, rushed to join the western allies.

Today's map of NATO is quite different from the original creation in 1949.


There are a couple of anomalies. Switzerland, obviously. And curiously Austria. Some of the Baltic States did not join, but the new elephant in the room is the Nordic countries. While Norway was an original signee in 1949, Finland and Sweden never did join.

Guess who wants to play today?

The leaders of Finland and Sweden have confirmed they intend to join Nato, signifying a historic Nordic policy shift triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that will redraw the security map of Europe.

Abandoning decades of military non-alignment, the two countries’ governments will present their proposals to their respective parliaments on Monday and are expected to formally submit a joint membership application to the 30-member alliance as soon as the decisions are ratified.

“The president and the government’s foreign policy committee have agreed that after consulting parliament, Finland will apply for Nato membership,” president Sauli Niinistö said, hailing the decision as “a historic day” for the Nordic country.

“A new era is opening,” Niinistö said. “A protected Finland is being born as part of a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region. We gain security, and we also share it. It’s good to keep in mind that security isn’t a zero-sum game.”

Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said she hoped parliament would confirm the decision “in the coming days”, adding that as a member of Nato, Finland would help reinforce not just the 30-member, US-led defensive alliance but also “strengthen the EU, whose voice in Nato can become stronger”.

A few hours later, Sweden’s Social Democrats said they had jettisoned their previous opposition to Nato membership, with Moscow’s onslaught on Ukraine looking set to usher in the very expansion of Nato Vladimir Putin claimed he wanted to prevent.

“The best thing for the security of Sweden and the Swedish people is to join Nato,” the prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, told a news conference. “We believe Sweden needs the formal security guarantees that come with membership in Nato.”

She said non-alignment had served Sweden well but “will not do so in the future”. Sweden would be “vulnerable” as the only country in the Baltic region outside Nato, she said, adding that Stockholm hoped to submit a joint application with Helsinki.

“Tomorrow I will assure broad parliamentary support in the Riksdag for a Swedish membership application,” Andersson said. The issue has divided her party, with some members objecting that the decision was rushed through. The Social Democrats remain opposed to nuclear weapons or permanent Nato military bases on Swedish soil.

But there's one other outlier too. It's Turkey. A curious country between Europe and Asia, it's also the only Muslim Majority nation in the alliance. And they have a dictatorial history and somewhat adversarial relationship with the West...so it should really come as no surprise that Turkey opposes the Nordic countries entering the alliance. Whose side are they on, anyway?

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Turkey´s president on Monday complicated Sweden and Finland´s historic bid to join NATO, saying he cannot allow them to become members of the alliance because of their perceived inaction against exiled Kurdish militants.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on comments last week indicating that the two Nordic countries´ path to NATO would be anything but smooth. All 30 current NATO countries must agree to open the door to new members.

Erdogan spoke to reporters just hours after Sweden joined Finland in announcing it would seek NATO membership in the wake of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, ending more than 200 years of military nonalignment. He accused the two countries of refusing to extradite “terrorists” wanted by his country.

“Neither country has an open, clear stance against terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said, in an apparent reference to Kurdish militant groups such as the banned Kurdistan Workers´ Party, or PKK.

Swedish officials said they would dispatch a team of diplomats to Ankara to discuss the matter, but Erdogan suggested they were wasting their time.

“Are they coming to try and convince us? Sorry don´t wear yourselves out,” Erdogan said. “During this process, we cannot say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey, on joining NATO, which is a security organization.”

Sweden has welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East in recent decades, including ethnic Kurds from Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Turkey´s objections took many Western officials by surprise and some had the impression Ankara would not let the issue spoil the NATO expansion. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg over the weekend said “Turkey has made it clear that their intention is not to block membership.”

In Washington, Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter was among those who said they were taken aback by Turkey´s objections.

“We have a very strong anti-terrorist agenda and a lot of, almost, accusations that are coming out ... are simply not true,” she said.

It is interesting times we live in indeed. Let us go back to that long-ago year of 1991. I remember listening to the BBC the day the Soviet Union fell, and feeling that the world had changed. There was talk of disbanding NATO at the time, as its primary enemy had collapsed - but I suppose it's a good thing that it expanded instead.

In the end though, it feels that the last act between East and West has yet to be played out.

6 comments (Latest Comment: 05/17/2022 15:03:12 by Raine)
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