Sweden's NATO bid in limbo: Is Erdogan leveraging F‑16 jet deal for his approval?
On Tuesday, the Turkish parliament decided by a majority vote to ratify Sweden's NATO application. However, Erdogan's endorsement is still pending.
As observed by Ulgen, the Turkish analyst and ex-diplomat, Turkey's ultimate acceptance of the Swedish application could follow one of three potential scenarios.
Firstly, Erdogan might append his signature to the law within the next 15 days, after which an official announcement will be made in the Official Journal, thereby, concluding the matter, said Ulgen.
"Secondly, the president might wait for a formal communication from the US State Department, endorsed by the US Congress, regarding the agreement to sell F-16 aircraft. Only after this formal communication may he sign the agreement, subsequently concluding the matter," the expert hinted.
Finally, the third scenario entails Erdogan awaiting a formal notification from the State Department on the F-16 deal. Meanwhile, US diplomacy could be waiting for Erdogan's endorsement of the accession matter. If the 15-day threshold lapses without Erdogan's signature, he might send back the application to the parliament. This would take us back to square one," stressed the director of the Edam Center.
The Stalemate over 40 F-16s
Erdogan earlier made the ratification of Sweden's NATO application subject to the approval of Ankara's request for 40 F-16 aircraft and spare parts by the US Congress. Similarly, Hakan Fidan, the Turkish Foreign Affairs minister, informed Antony Blinken, indicating Turkey's anticipation that the US administration and Congress will "uphold the commitment" concerning the F-16s.
Ankara has persistently sought authorization from Congress to purchase 40 F-16 fighters of the latest model and upgrade several older aircraft of the same type. After Erdogan's consent to Sweden's NATO accession was announced, representatives from President Joe Biden's administration confirmed that the White House fully backs the sales deal.
Nonetheless, the deal was thwarted by the former Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Menendez- an ardent critic of Turkey and ardent supporter of Greece in the US Congress. Menendez and his wife were accused of acting as agents for the Egyptian authorities on behalf of officials from Cairo, by the federal prosecutor's office in October.