Swedish Premier to visit Turkey on Monday to convince Erdogan on NATO membership

Swedish Premier to visit Turkey on Monday to convince Erdogan on NATO membership
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Turkish President Erdogan will hold talks with Sweden's Prime Minister Kristersson on Tuesday

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host new Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in capital Ankara on Tuesday to discuss the Scandinavian country’s NATO membership.

Kristersson will pay a two-day visit to Turkey on the invitation of Erdogan, starting on Monday.

All aspects of bilateral relations will also be discussed during the talks between Erdogan and Kristersson, 

Turkish President’s office said, describing Sweden as Turkey’s “strategic partner.”

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb.24, Sweden and Finland that have a long history of neutrality in military conflicts, officially applied for NATO membership in May. While the vast majority of NATO members welcomed the two country’s applications, Turkey, the second largest army in the alliance, opposed the bids, citing Stockholm and Helsinki’s “failure” to combat threats to Turkey’s security.

After Sweden and Finland promised to address Ankara’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects, Turkey dropped its objections against their membership applications, allowing the military organization to formally invite the two countries for joining the military alliance at a Madrid summit in June. But the final approval 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.

Following a phone call with Erdogan in late October, Kristersson said his country will fulfil the tripartite memorandum signed in June. 

Just days before Kristersson’s visit to Ankara to try to convince Erdogan to let Sweden join the military alliance, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom on Saturday said his country will distance itself from the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria.

"The primary objective is Sweden's membership in NATO," top Swedish diplomat said.

Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), forming the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is allied with the West in a fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. Ankara sees YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed armed group fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil for almost four decades. PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, but YPG is not.

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.