Interview by Bilgehan Ucak: The Future of the Relationship between Turkey and NATO with Sinan Ulgen

Interview by Bilgehan Ucak: The Future of the Relationship between Turkey and NATO with Sinan Ulgen
Update: 08 July 2022 23:07
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Turkey, Sweden and Finland came to an agreement to initiate their accession to NATO. Ulgen, a senior diplomat and Istanbul based EDAM’s Director, commented on NATO Summit for +GercekNews

Turkey, Sweden and Finland came to an agreement to initiate their accession to NATO. Sinan Ulgen, a senior diplomat and Istanbul based think-tank EDAM’s Director, commented on NATO Summit for +GercekNews. “Turkey is a very important member of NATO since 1952 and a part of Europe since 1923, after the foundation of the modern Republic,” said Ulgen and underlined the importance of signing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

What exactly happened on Tuesday?

"On Tuesday, Turkey, Sweden and Finland came to an agreement for those countries to initiate their procedure for accession to NATO. 'Memorandum of Understanding' was signed between Turkey, Sweden and Finland. It essentially lists the different commitments that these countries decided to undertake in response to Turkey’s demands. There are several categories of such commitments, and the MOU has been received very positively in Turkey. It was branded as a victory for the Turkish government. As a former diplomat I don’t like this type of terminology to identify what’s ultimately diplomatic negotiations. In this case, Sweden and Finland are not losers. They also went home and said it was a fine outcome for them. But overall, this is certainly very important for NATO because it will allow for NATO Summit to proceed to be considered as a success given that it will allow to welcome new countries."

What did Turkey gain?

"Turkey received a response from Sweden and Finland on arrange of demands. If we have to go through them, Stockholm and Helsinki decided to lift the arms embargo which were imposed after 2019. They have committed to fight more effectively to curtail the operations of -what Turkey considers to be terrorists- which is also in the EU lists, PKK and related entities. But Turkey wanted some reference to the Syrian based YPG/PYD and Fethullah organization.

This is also reflected in the memorandum of understanding. There is also a commitment by Nordic governments to in hands the mechanism and turn it to a more effective way for treat demands they received from Turkey’s extradition request. Governments have not confirmed that this extradition demand will be met with a favorable outcome. This is something that governments can do. Bu the principle of separation of powers, this is the scope of the judiciary. The three governments also decided for a permanent mechanism that would oversee and monitor the implementation of these commitments. Because it is permanent it will continue to be effective after the accession of these countries to NATO. This was a successful agreement for all the sights involved and it demonstrated of power of democracy."


Interview by Bilgehan Ucak: The Future of the Relationship between Turkey and NATO with Sinan UlgenAfter graduating from Virginia University, Sinan Ülgen got his Masters Degree in European College, Brugge and became a diplomat in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ulgen is the Director of Istanbul based think-tank EDAM and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, Brussels.

Why did Erdogan change his discourse?

"There were two options for the Turkish government: First option was to allow these negotiations to be handled through diplomatic channels and behind closed doors. Second option was to publicize this and keep a very heavy rhetoric. That

would indicate public opinion. Erdogan decided to choose the second option. And hoped that this would also help his popularity at home. Ultimately this is also the reason why we saw some very tough statements coming out of Ankara before negotiations. There was an agreement that emerged after these negotiations. These negotiations can be explained in three parts: First factor, Sweden and Finland have come with a number of commitments to satisfy Ankara. Secondly, prior to those negotiations US has implicated and Biden gave a call to Turkish President Erdogan. In our understanding, he asked him essentially to conclude these negotiations before the Madrid Summit. Finally, for Ankara, if these negotiations were not concluded immediately and instead postponed to Madrid, then Turkey would have come under pressure from its Western allies. He would be criticized for helping Russia and that would be bad for the image of the country."

How do you see the future of relationship between Turkey and NATO?

"Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952. Given its geographic position and its size of military, contributing to NATO security, Turkey is a very important ally. This is a mutual relationship. NATO contributes to Turkey’s security, and Turkey contributes to NATO’s security. Since 1923, the foundation of modern Turkish Republic, Turkey’s vocation is being a part of Europe. We see this in many different eras. Turkey is a member of NATO, OECD, a founding member of Council of Europe, candidate to the EU… That’s the political side. Also economically Turkey is closely linked to the European economy. 50 percent of exportation is to Europe, 70 percent of FDI comes from Europe… There is no good outcome for both Turkey and Europe if one makes a decision to part ways."

*Born in Istanbul, Kadikoy in 1989, he has written for many different newspapers and magazines. He received his Cultural Studies Master's degree from Bilgi University. His first book “Futbol mu? Yok daha neler” was published in 2012, which was a compilation of his many interviews. He analyzed Resat Nuri Guntekin’s political views in his own material in his second book “Operada Mucella Suzan,” which was published in 2019. His first novel “Aksamlar Artik Serin” was published in November 2020, and his second novel “Biraz Ses Olsun” was published in January 2021.