Turkey’s Case Against the Kurds: On the Veto against Finland & Sweden

A History of Ethnic Superiority & Religious Zeal

Jakub Ferencik
6 min readJun 30, 2022


Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been particularly ruthless to the Kurdish minority in Turkey and has called the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization.

It is Finland’s and Sweden’s alleged support for the PKK that Erdogan cited as reason enough to veto their inclusion into NATO — a position that has now changed as NATO members meet in Madrid this week to discuss Ukraine, China, and climate change, among other prescient concerns.

But why is Erdogan so antagonistic to the PKK and Kurds more generally? Well, it boils down to their history — a history of ethnic superiority and religious zeal.

Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

There are a number of reasons why Erdogan was so militant about his stance toward Finland and Sweden, and it may not have just been to leverage the two countries. Although, there is a good case to make about that because of Erdogan’s need to boost his economy which has been experiencing unprecedented lows, following the fall of their national currency, the Turkish lira.

So, what were the reasons Erdogan thought Finland and Sweden were shielding Kurdish terrorists?

  1. There’s a sizeable amount of Kurds living in both Sweden and Finland.
  2. Turkey believes that European Kurds are funding much of the efforts for autonomy the PKK is making at home in Turkey.
  3. Sweden allows for media channels that are pro-PKK.
  4. Finland and Sweden have previously refused to extradite members of the PKK.

But Turkey is also interested in selling its drones, as briefly hinted at before, especially now when they are in high demand in Ukraine. So, all of these reasons for vetoing Finland and Sweden may be partially true, but they do not paint a complete picture.

In fact, most who know Erdogan’s diplomatic tactics have claimed that this veto was simply a fad. Erdogan would eventually agree to Finland’s and Sweden’s membership, but he wanted to first squeeze out the most he could.

This gets at Erdogan’s history with the Kurds, which is equally sad and long.



Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air” & “Beyond Reason” available on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | Research assistant for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ blog posts with 1+ mil. views