Turkey Supports Sweden's NATO Bid
The major hurdle in Sweden’s bid to join NATO is set to be removed with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreeing to forward the Nordic nation’s accession protocol to the Turkish parliament soon.
In return, Sweden will support efforts to reinvigorate Turkey’s EU accession process, including modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and visa liberalization.
The agreement was reached at a meeting between Erdogan, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the NATO Summit in Vilnius late Monday.
“Since the last NATO Summit, Sweden and Turkey have worked closely together to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns. As part of that process, Sweden has amended its constitution, changed its laws, significantly expanded its counter- terrorism cooperation against the PKK, and resumed arms exports to Turkey”, NATO said in a statement issued after the meeting.
Erdogan has long been insisting on returning PKK militants for his country’s ratification of Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
Stockholm’s refusal to extradite dozens of people having ties with Kurdish militant groups and other critics of his government has been a major stumbling block ahead of Sweden.
A new bilateral Security Compact has been formed, and at its first meeting, Sweden will present a roadmap as the basis of its continued fight against terrorism.
Both Sweden and Turkey agreed to continue their counter-terrorism cooperation beyond Sweden’s accession to NATO.
The two countries have also agreed to step up economic cooperation, through the Turkey-Sweden Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO).
Erdogan has assured that he will work closely with Turkey’s Grand National Assembly to ensure ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession protocol.
The North Atlantic Council’s approval of the applications for NATO membership requires ratification by the parliaments of all the countries of the 31-member bloc.
Hungary and Turkey remain the only NATO member states that have not yet ratified the instrument of ratification of Sweden’s Accession Protocol.
Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto had said last month that his country would back Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance once Turkey also moves in that direction.
Both Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in May 2022, and the former became the 31st member of the western military alliance on 2023 April 4 through the fastest ratification process in its modern history.
US President Joe Biden, who is in the Lithuanian capital to attend the NATO summit, said he is looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as its 32nd NATO Ally. “I stand ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey on enhancing defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area,” he said in a statement.
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