The relationship between Turkey and NATO has been complicated. It began with the signing of a treaty that required Turkey to join the organization. Since then, Turkish foreign policy has evolved to become more pro-NATO. While many have criticized Turkey's role, there have been some contributions to the NATO response force and crisis management.
Despite its commitment to democracy and the rule of law, Erdogan has been known to act in a destabilizing manner. While he has held back on NATO's admission of traditionally neutral countries, such as Poland and the Baltic States, Turkey has also fought back against the enlargement process. In particular, he has been a long-time proponent of joining Ukraine, a country that is not a member of NATO.
Turkey's recent military incursions into the northern Syrian region have strained the alliance. In addition, the failure to take a stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine has rekindled the question of whether Turkey could be left without a voice in the Western alliance. While some NATO allies have expressed support for Turkish membership, others doubt that a more democratic Turkey would be willing to serve in the military.
In the short term, Turkey will likely focus on pressing its Nordic allies to fulfill its demands. While Finland and Sweden are close to full membership, they have not yet met its requirements. This has led Turkey to make the case that it can not afford to miss out on the benefits of being a member.
The S-400 surface-to-air missile system is a key example. This is the type of technology that has stopped F-35 aircraft deliveries to Turkey. While some have pointed out the potential for compromise, a larger NATO would provide a check on Russia's power. However, the United States and other NATO members are reluctant to accept a Russian-backed Turkey as a military partner, in part due to the risk of wider escalation.
While the relationship between Turkey and NATO is complicated, it has been relatively successful. While some have called the relationship between Ankara and the West a stalemate, it is unlikely that there will be a serious breakdown in the near future. This will be largely determined by how Ankara's government acts. A strong stance on the part of the Turkish president has kept the alliance from falling apart. While this will not guarantee that Turkey will be granted everything it asks, it will likely ensure that the two sides avoid a major security crisis.
In the long term, Turkey will continue to pursue its national interests, even if it means at the expense of its NATO partners. The Turkish leader has been a stick up artist in the Western alliance, but his recent actions have put a spotlight on his lack of leadership. In the face of a potentially dangerous Russian invasion, he has warned that his country can no longer afford to be left behind. He has also urged the West to declare the Syrian rebels terrorists.