“Sweden will be left out if the process takes too long”

“Sweden will be left out if the process takes too long”
A+ A-
Sweden's Foreign Minister, Tobias Billstrom, expressed his disappointment at Turkey's decision to delay Sweden's NATO bid while moving forward with Finland's.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Friday he regrets Turkey's decision not to move forward with his country's application to NATO while moving forward with Finland's application.

"This is a development that we did not want, but that we were prepared for," Billstrom said in a news conference, adding that
if the process takes too long, many things could change.

“While Finland would be more integrated into NATO, Sweden will be left out,” he said.

Following months of delays, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday that he was asking parliament to vote on Finland's bid to join the NATO defense bloc.

But he was still not ready to move forward on Sweden, which submitted its bid together with Finland in May of last year.

In another setback for Sweden, Hungary announced Friday that it would vote on Finland's ratification on March 27, but Sweden's bid would be decided on "later".

The Nordic neighbours ended decades of military non-alignment and decided to join the US-led defence alliance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Their applications were accepted at a June NATO summit, but the bids still needed to be ratified by all 30 of the alliance members' parliaments -- a process that ran into trouble when it came to Turkey and Hungary.

Erdogan has accused Sweden in particular of not honouring the terms of a separate deal they reached in June 2022, under which Turkey had agreed to approve the bids.

Turkey has sought the extradition of dozens of Kurdish and other suspects it accuses of ties to outlawed militants and a failed 2016 coup attempt.

On Friday, the Turkish head of state said Sweden had still not agreed to extradite a list of some 120 people wanted by Ankara.

In Stockholm, Billstrom insisted that Sweden was living up to its commitments under the deal.

"We are doing everything that is written in this memorandum, but we do not do less and we do not do more than what is written in it," he said.

"This means that when extradition cases arise that are related to this memorandum, there will be decisions that can be positive and that can be negative from Turkey's point of view and that is how it will simply be," he added.