NATO Chief set to visit Turkey in near future to unblock Sweden and Finland’s membership
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he will visit Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in near future to discuss Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the military alliance.
“We are in close contact with Finland and Sweden and also of course in close contact at all levels with our close Ally, Türkiye,” Stoltenberg said during a joint press briefing with Romanian premier Nicolae Ciuca on Wednesday.
Stoltenberg said he is confident that all member countries will ratify Sweden and Finland’s accession protocols.
Sweden and Finland that have a long history of neutrality in military conflicts, officially applied for NATO membership in May, following Russia’s launching an invasion of Ukraine on Feb.24. While the vast majority of NATO members welcomed Sweden’s and Finland’s bids, Turkey, the second largest army in the alliance, opposed the two countries’ bids, citing their failure to combat threats to Turkey’s security.
After the two Scandinavian countries promised to address Ankara’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects, Turkey dropped its objections against Sweden and Finland’s membership applications, allowing the military organization to formally invite the two countries for membership at a Madrid summit in June. But the final approval of their memberships depends on the current member states’ parliaments. The NATO accession protocols for Sweden and Finland need to be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 members, where Ankara says it will not approve the documents if Stockholm and Helsinki fail to fulfil their commitments, regarding Turkey’s extradition requests.
Welcoming Turkey, Sweden and Finland’s working together to implement the trilateral agreement they have reached in June, Stoltenberg said the three countries have established a mechanism to work closely together on the exchange of intelligence to support efforts on fighting international terrorism.
“So I'm confident that all Allies will ratify the Accession Protocol,” he said.
Twenty-eight of 30 NATO member states by now have given the necessary official approval for Sweden and Finland’s joining the transatlantic alliance.
Turkey and Hungary remain on the list that have not yet ratified the accession protocols.
“I also welcome the fact that Finland and Sweden are in close contact with Türkiye,” the NATO chief said, pointing out that the new Swedish President Ulf Kristersson will visit Turkey to meet with Erdogan as well.
“I will go to Ankara… Or to Türkiye, to Istanbul, to meet with President Erdogan in the near future myself,” he said.
Kristersson on Wednesday said he was "looking forward to visit Ankara soon," via Twitter, following a phone call with the Turkish President.
Describing the call as "constructive", Kristersson said his country will fulfil the tripartite memorandum signed in June.
Following the phone call with Kristersson, Erdogan also said he would be happy to welcome the Swedish premier in Ankara.
Turkey "stands ready to advance the bilateral relations with the Swedish government in all areas," Erdogan’s office said in a statement.