Türkiye, from a geostrategic perspective, is central to NATO and an extremely valuable member since 1952, the top Portuguese diplomat has said, suggesting a closer dialogue between Türkiye and Sweden for the latter’s advancement to becoming an alliance member, along with Finland,.
“NATO is a security alliance and Türkiye is an extremely valuable ally since 1952. We joined NATO in 1949 and worked with Türkiye in different scenarios over the years. Türkiye, from a geostrategic perspective, is central for NATO,” Portugal’s Foreign Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho told the Hurriyet Daily News in an interview on Jan. 30, TurkicWorld reports.
Cravinho was in Ankara for official talks with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Trade Minister Mehmet Muş. He and Muş co-chaired the JETCO meeting with the participation of businessmen from both countries.
On Sweden and Finland’s application to NATO, Cravinho recalled that all the allies should feel comfortable during the transformation of the alliance and the expansion of it with two new members constituting a new transformation for the alliance. “Therefore, everybody should be comfortable and Türkiye should be comfortable in this context,” he said, referring to a trilateral agreement Türkiye, Sweden and Finland signed in 2022 that stipulates a road map for the two Nordic states to join NATO.
The minister recalled that Finland’s bid is moving forward but there is problem with the Swedish process. “Sweden made some very important steps. It changed its constitution, and it should be seen that changing constitutions is a very significant move. The Turkish side is saying that Sweden made these steps on paper and not on practical terms,” explained Cravinho.
Besides political problems there are spoilers who want to sabotage the accession of these two countries into NATO, he recalled, referring to provocative Quran burning incident in Stockholm in the past weeks.
“Burning a Quran is unacceptable. But we should not fall into this trap. We should not abandon our geostrategic interests because an idiot is burning a Quran. Otherwise, we may risk losing the control. We should not fall into this trap,” he stated.
Despite problems and looming elections in Türkiye and Finland, Portugal’s top diplomat maintained “I think we will get to this point [the accession]. Dialogue between Türkiye and Sweden will take us there, maybe before or after the elections.”
“We understand there is a negotiating process, but it should not prevent us from seeing the big picture. The accession of two countries should occur and at the same time Türkiye should be comfortable with it,” he added.
He also underlined that there is a consensus in NATO “about the geostrategic value of the participation of these two countries to the alliance. Because there is a transformation of the landscape with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We collectively see that the expansion is to the interest of NATO,” he stated.
On a question about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that Finland can join NATO separately, Cravinho recalled that Fins have always been willing to enter the alliance together with Sweden.
“I don’t know what advantage Finland would gain if they were to enter separately? From a geostrategic perspective, they should join together because this accession is meant to protect Sweden and Finland from Russia,” he said.
Türkiye’s talking to Russia is good
On the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the minister hailed Ankara’s mediation efforts. “Türkiye has a very important role on Ukraine and it is actually playing this role. For example, the grain initiative was very important for the global food security. It is important that it continues. Türkiye and the U.N. played a central role in that,” he explained.
Underlining that Türkiye’s geostrategic situation is different and it has ties with Russia, the top Portuguese diplomat stressed, “And it is good that Türkiye is in talks with Russia because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is not talking to us. Of course, with Türkiye we don’t have exactly the same position concerning the Ukraine crisis, but we sure have a great amount of convergence in our views.”