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News > Turkey

Sweden Fails to End NATO Membership Standoff

  • NATO headquarters. Jul. 7, 2023.

    NATO headquarters. Jul. 7, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@NewsroomOdisha

Published 7 July 2023

"...the Brussels meeting was "productive" and it reaffirmed that Sweden's NATO membership is within reach..."

On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Türkiye did not green-light Sweden's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); but the participants agreed to meet again next Monday in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Official statements show that the aim of the talks between Stoltenberg and the foreign ministers of Sweden and Türkiye in Brussels was to overcome Türkiye's objections to Sweden joining the alliance.

According to Stoltenberg, the Brussels meeting was "productive" and it reaffirmed that Sweden's NATO membership is within reach.

Stoltenberg also stated that, on the eve of NATO's July 11-12 summit, he would convene a meeting between Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdoğan and Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

Official reports show that both Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year; however, both nations faced objections from Türkiye, which argued that the two countries harbor members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulen movement.

Earlier this year, Türkiye lifted its objection to Finland's NATO accession after Helsinki took "concrete steps" against such organizations.

In April, Finland became NATO's 31st member state. However, Ankara continued to block Sweden's NATO bid.

According to Stoltenberg, Sweden had amended its constitution and introduced new anti-terrorist legislation, removed restrictions on arms exports to Türkiye, and stepped-up counter-terrorism cooperation, including against the PKK.

"Sweden has taken steps in terms of legislative changes, but legislative changes need to be reflected in practice," Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said in an official statement.

After the meeting, Tobias Billstrom, Sweden's Foreign Minister, said that progress was made during the meeting and that his country expects "a positive decision next week."

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