| 22 April 2024, Monday |

Erdogan drops opposition to Sweden’s NATO bid: Stoltenberg

On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg revealed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to present Sweden’s application for NATO membership to the Turkish parliament. Stoltenberg made this announcement following discussions with Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson ahead of the NATO summit in Lithuania.
“This is a historic day,” Stoltenberg said.

A joint statement released by the three leaders does not specify a timeline for the Turkish parliament to approve Sweden’s application.

Sweden, along with neighboring Finland, abandoned its longstanding military neutrality and applied for NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

But Stockholm’s entry into the military alliance had been blocked by two members, Turkey and Hungary.

Hungary has strongly signaled it will follow Erdogan’s lead and approve Sweden’s membership should Turkey give its green light.

Surprise announcement
Earlier on Monday, Erdogan added to the list of demands he wants fulfilled in exchange for finally backing Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Speaking just hours before meeting Kristersson, Erdogan suggested if the European Union wanted Sweden in NATO, it should let Turkey into the EU.
Membership talks between the bloc and Ankara began in 2005 but were put on hold indefinitely in 2016 after years of democratic backsliding, human rights abuses, and provocations under Erdogan.

After the meeting between Stoltenberg, Erdogan and Kristersson, the three said, “Sweden will actively support efforts to reinvigorate Turkey’s EU accession process, including modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and visa liberalization,” the statement said.

Biden welcomes Erdogan’s green light for Sweden
US President Joe Biden welcomed to Turkey’s leaders agreement to back Sweden’s application.

“I stand ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey on enhancing defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

“I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO ally.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock congratulated Sweden on Twitter.

“Our joint efforts have paid off,” she wrote, adding that with Sweden in NATO “we’re all safer together


  • DW