Brussels, Elmau, Madrid: Chancellor Olaf Scholz has seven days of a sporting summit program ahead of him. But the hardest nut that the chancellor has to crack on the summits is not Putin, but Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And it does not affect Russia’s army, but NATO.
The Federal Chancellor must be particularly careful these days. A corona infection would put him out of action in what may be the most important days of this year. Almost all of those around him in the Chancellery have been affected in recent weeks, but Olaf Scholz has been spared the virus to this day.
And it should stay that way, according to the urgent wish of his recovered followers. Because there are seven days of sporty summit programs ahead of Scholz. In Brussels, he first negotiated the admission of further Western Balkan countries to the EU, and later the prospect of Ukraine joining. In Elmau, in front of the local mountain backdrop, the role of host at the G7 summit follows.
And this undertaking is proving to be more difficult than the chancellor himself would have thought. Because Turkey’s blockade of Sweden and Finland’s membership is – contrary to what was initially thought – not just a whim on the part of Turkish President Erdoğan. It is fundamental resistance.
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He argues: “The countries are inns for terrorist organizations. Erdoğan only wants to allow the newcomers to join the defense alliance under certain conditions. And these are so fundamental that even the Federal Chancellor is no longer sure whether there will be a solution at the upcoming summit in Madrid.
Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.
It would be an enormous setback for NATO, which seemed to be rediscovering itself as a community in the face of the common enemy in the east. But instead of demonstrating strength and unity the security-political shoals of partial interests and vanity are threatening.
That’s why Brussels and Berlin are now happily scolding Turkey. In angry tones, some are already fantasizing about whether the alliance wouldn’t work better without Turkey. But it’s not that easy.
1. Excluding Turkey from NATO is not legally possible. The NATO treaty only sees voluntary withdrawal as an option in Article 13. Once Nato, always Nato. At least, unless a country wants to go of its own free will.
2. Anyone who criticizes Turkey is criticizing a country that has been a NATO member for 70 years – longer than Germany. In 1952, the United States pushed for Turkey to be included – because of its western orientation, solidarity in the Korean War and strategically important location.
3. In a still significant location for operations in the Middle East, Turkey maintains the second largest army within the partnership. At the Incirlik NATO base – under the control of the United States Air Force – the warheads for nuclear sharing are kept ready.
4. Turkey may be a complicated, but above all a proud partner. President Erdoğan wants his concerns to be taken seriously. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg understood that when he last described it as “legitimate”. He said: “We must remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey. “
When Turkey invaded northeast Syria to counter this in 2019, Sweden and Finland responded by halting arms exports to Turkey. Erdoğan has not forgotten that. He doesn’t want any opponents in the alliance. Who could blame him.
Conclusion: Turkey may be a stubborn partner, but it remains a pillar of the western defense alliance. Those who wish them away do not want to get to know the world in which Turkey loses all links with the West and turns to Moscow. If things go badly for Olaf Scholz, this week’s summit tour will end in bankruptcy. In order to prevent this, it means improving, negotiating, persuading. We owe it to the partner who has been in the alliance longer than our own country.