| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Erdogan: Let Turkey in EU if you want Sweden in NATO

On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey expanded the set of requirements he seeks to be met before providing his support for Stockholm’s inclusion in NATO.
Speaking just hours before meeting Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to discuss Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance, Erdogan suggested if the EU 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.
“Almost all the NATO members are EU members,” he said, “I now am addressing these countries, which are making Turkey wait for more than 50 years, and I will address them again [at the NATO summit] in Vilnius. First, open the way to Turkey’s membership of the European Union, and then we will open it for Sweden, just as we had opened it for Finland.”

Erdogan claimed he had “told the same thing” to US President Joe Biden when they spoke by phone Sunday, though a White House readout of the call shows no mention of EU membership for Turkey.

Reacting to news of Ankara’s new demands, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaking in Berlin on Monday, said Sweden’s NATO membership should not be tied to Turkey’s stalled EU membership bid: “Sweden meets all the requirements for NATO membership. The other question is one that is not connected with it. And that is why I do not think it should be seen as a connected issue.”
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson plans to meet with Erdogan on Monday in a last-ditch effort to bridge gaps over Stockholm’s desire to join NATO.

Last month, Erdogan repeated frustrations with what he says is Sweden’s failure to keep its promise to deal with suspected Kurdish militants allegedly “roaming the streets” of Stockholm. Erdogan says this is hindering Swedish hopes of joining NATO.

“Sweden has taken some steps in the right direction,” Erdogan’s office quoted the Turkish leader as telling Biden on Sunday.

But Sweden’s decision to allow pro-Kurdish groups to, “hold demonstrations freely praising terrorism nullify those steps,” Erdogan said.

  • DW