| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Swedish, Turkish officials hold talks at NATO headquarters

On Thursday, senior officials from Sweden and Turkey will convene at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss Sweden’s halted efforts to become a member of the military alliance.
One goal of the meeting is to identify any remaining objections Turkey has to Sweden joining NATO ahead of its annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next Tuesday.

Sweden has made several overtures to Turkey in the past 12 months.

These include lifting an arms embargo and cracking down on members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara has long considered to be a terrorist organization.

But Turkey has also more recently condemned a Quran-burning protest in Stockholm, which Swedish authorities permitted citing freedom of speech.
Sweden and its neighbor Finland moved to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. Finland’s membership bid was accepted in April, and Finnish officials will also join the talks on Thursday.

Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members that have continued to block Sweden’s bid to join NATO. The other 29 member states, as well as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, have all said Sweden has done enough to satisfy Turkey’s demands.

Last week, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Hungary had twice assured him that it would not hold things up, which would leave Turkey as the sole objector.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden met with Kristersson in Washington.

Biden reiterated that he “fully, fully supports Sweden’s membership in NATO.”

“The bottom line is simple: Sweden is going to make our alliance stronger,” Biden said.

  • DW