Turkey agrees Sweden NATO membership as summit begins in Lithuania
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to Sweden's membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), hours before the military alliance's summit is due to get underway in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on Tuesday (11 July).
The NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday evening (10 July) that President Erdogan would forward Sweden's bid to the Turkish parliament in Ankara and "ensure ratification". He described it as a "historic step" but stressed that a "clear date" for Sweden's formal accession to the organisation could not yet be given as this relies on both the Turkish parliament as well as Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and the Hungarian parliament.
Hungary and Turkey remain the only two NATO members who are not yet to retify Sweden's membership. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday that ratification of Sweden's bid is now "only a technical question".
Reacting to the news, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said: "I am very happy, it is a good day for Sweden."
Tue, 07/11/2023 - 09:46
The time is now to finalise Sweden's accession to NATO, says Blinken
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the "time is now" to finalise Sweden's accession to NATO.
While both Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO together on 18 May 2022, some two and a half months after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden's bid has been held up by objections from Hungary and Turkey. Finland on the other hand became the 31st member of the military alliance on 4 April 2023.
Speaking at a press conference in the northern Swedish city of Luleå alongside Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday (30 May), Blinken added that Sweden has "taken very significant steps to address very legitimate concerns, and I think in terms of its own qualifications for membership, from day one it was qualified precisely because it’s been such a long-time partner for NATO; of course, the European Union; and with values that are fundamentally the same."
Turkey has accused Sweden of being soft on groups that they perceive as terror organisations or consider existential threats, including Kurdish groups such as the PKK, and the Syrian Kurdish militia group, the YPG and its political branch, the PYD. In an attempt to address Turkey's concerns and to persuade Ankara to approve Sweden's bid to join NATO, at the start of May Sweden tightened anti-terrorism laws to include a prison term of up to four years for individuals convicted of participating in an extremist organisation in a way that is intended to promote, strengthen or support the group.
Wed, 05/31/2023 - 09:56