The major diplomatic backdrop leading up to today's NATO Summit was marked by the culmination of negotiations between the United States, Turkey, NATO, and Sweden to lift Ankara's months-long blockade on the latter's accession to the Alliance.
Following signals in recent days indicating a possible resolution to the impasse, Erdogan reached the climax of his negotiating game by linking the issue of Sweden's NATO membership not only to US-Turkey relations and the F-16 chapter but also by escalating a series of "grand bargain" practices, which, among other things:
They built negotiating capital around the originally raised issue of Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO, which Turkey added to the NATO agenda, essentially shaping it as a trendsetter.
They connected the issue both with Euro-Turkish (Turkey's accession process) and US-Turkish relations, aiming to establish a new starting point for these relationships with specific benefits for Turkey (such as the F-16 chapter or specific gains like customs upgrades).
They prolonged the timeline for lifting the obstacles to Sweden's accession, as Erdogan referred the matter to the Turkish National Assembly while also planning to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in August.
Erdogan's bargaining game at NATO indirectly relates to tomorrow's meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and how a new beginning in Ankara's relations with the EU and the US can positively contribute to the challenging task of restarting the Cyprus negotiations. The fact that Erdogan includes the Euro-Turkish relationship chapter in his negotiating game through Sweden requires accurate readings from Nicosia (and Athens) as there are inherent risks, such as linking European involvement in the Cyprus issue (appointment of a personality) with matters of significance to Turkey, like the customs union upgrade, creating an unequal and complex situation if it emerges as such.
Furthermore, especially for Nicosia, Turkey's negotiating tactic in recent months regarding Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO serves as a constant reminder that political will alone is not sufficient for the Cyprus issue, but serious planning and preparation are also necessary. Ankara demonstrates its ability to define the negotiating framework, as it did with the 30 member states of the NATO alliance. Additionally, it remains significant for the West and Euro-Atlantic actors within the EU due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. It also connects the Cyprus issue in a specific manner to the EU and the Eastern Mediterranean, as stated by Erdogan himself, with specific reference to a Summit on the Eastern Mediterranean during his recent visit to the Occupied Territories.
In any case, the two-day NATO Summit remains significant for Cyprus, and the meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan will reveal the latter's intentions regarding the Cyprus issue in the coming months.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]