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Bobby Ghosh

Erdogan Missed a Big Opportunity With NATO

Instead of acting the statesman in a time of crisis, the Turkish president played parochial politics. He has little to show for it.

Less than meets the eye.

Less than meets the eye.

Photographer: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

To judge by Turkey’s pro-government media, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scored a major geopolitical victory for his country at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Madrid this week. “Turkey slammed its fist on the table, Europe came to its knees,” declared the conservative Yeni Akit daily.

This was a reference to Erdogan’s brinkmanship over the accession of Sweden and Finland, which forced the alliance’s other members to invest time and energy in entreating him just as NATO faces its sternest test in decades as a result of Russian expansionism. The Nordic nations eventually signed an agreement with Turkey, pledging to address its security concerns, which center mainly on Kurdish groups that Ankara considers terrorists.