Sweden, Türkiye to resume NATO talks mid-March: Kristersson - M5 Dergi
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Sweden, Türkiye to resume NATO talks mid-March: Kristersson

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Sweden’s talks with Türkiye about its impending NATO membership are set to resume in mid-March after stalling in January in the wake of protests by terrorist sympathizers and a far-right extremistaccording to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

“There is also a date, it’s not a secret, but we’re waiting for confirmation,” Kristersson said during an interview with Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT on Wednesday.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the trans-Atlantic defense pact after Russia invaded Ukraine. Still, Sweden has been facing unexpected objections from Türkiye, alongside Hungary, whose parliament is set to debate the bids next week.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the suspended talks would resume soon, which Kristersson later said he welcomed.

Ankara is concerned by Stockholm harboring members of terrorist groups like the PKK, its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). It has demanded their extradition as a step toward giving Sweden’s NATO membership its green light.

A trilateral pact inked on the margins of a NATO summit in Madrid in June 2022 bound the Nordic countries to a series of commitments to assuage Ankara’s security concerns.

However, accession talks between the sides have balked since January after a copy of the Quran was burned outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, under government authorization and police protection. Paludan’s actions only piled on protests by PKK sympathizers targeting Erdoğan and Türkiye in prior weeks.

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg himself urged Ankara for ratification during a visit of solidarity last week over the twin earthquakes that left more than 43,000 people dead in Türkiye’s southeast since Feb. 6.

Citing the lifting of the arms embargo and steps the Swedish government took on fighting terrorism, namely the anti-terror law that went into effect on Jan. 1, Stoltenberg argued the countries had “demonstrated their commitment” and that it was “high time Türkiye approves Sweden and Finland’s accession.”

“What matters is not whether their applications are approved separately but that both become members,” he said at a joint presser with Çavuşoğlu.

The top Turkish diplomat countered, saying, “It isn’t realistic to say Stockholm has wholly fulfilled its commitments under the tripartite deal. They took steps … but the PKK continues to operate there.”

Türkiye has also stressed it would be “wrong” to assess the burning of the Quran regarding the two countries’ NATO accession.

“We know the perpetrators of these acts are doing these to block Sweden’s membership,” Çavuşoğlu said. “But this is a hate crime that needs to be stopped.”


Finland and Sweden are proceeding “hand-in-hand” toward NATO membership, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto also said on Wednesday but added that Türkiye controlled the decision to ratify the applications.

“We proceed hand in hand in terms of the things that are in our own hands,” Niinisto told a joint news conference with the Swedish and Norwegian prime ministers. “But ratification is not in our hands.”

While Türkiye is maintaining its stance over Sweden’s support of terrorists, Finland’s application has elicited a warmer response from Ankara, with Erdoğan previously suggesting Türkiye could welcome the country into NATO “alone.”

Helsinki, however, has repeatedly expressed its willingness to join the alliance alongside Sweden, arguing it would “be to everyone’s interest that we join together.”

Niinistö also revealed he would waste no time signing a NATO entry bill into law once parliament approves the move.

A vote is due next Tuesday on the country joining the Western military alliance and is expected to pass.

“I will sign right away, as I normally do,” Niinistö said separately at a security meeting with Sweden.

Niinistö said it should become law before the Finnish parliamentary elections on April 2.

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