Ankara, Stockholm and Helsinki are planning to meet before a July summit of NATO to discuss Sweden’s accession into the North Atlantic alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said
“This meeting will include foreign ministers, heads of intelligence and national security advisers. The aim is to make progress in completing Sweden’s accession to NATO,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Lithuania.
He had spoken with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday and was also in contact with the governments in Stockholm and Helsinki, Stoltenberg said.
They had agreed to hold a high-level meeting in Brussels before the July 11-12 NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.
In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in May 2022.
Finland has been a member of the alliance since April 2023, while Sweden still lacks Türkiye and Hungary’s approval.
Ankara is blocking Sweden’s accession mainly because Sweden is taking insufficient action against terrorist organizations in the country.
There have been repeated meetings between representatives of the countries to resolve the Turkish blockade, most recently in Ankara in mid-June.
During that meeting, Erdoğan doubted his approval would come by the NATO summit.
Recent provocative demonstrations by terrorist sympathizers and Islamophobic figures in Stockholm have led Turkish leaders to question Sweden’s commitment to take the steps necessary for NATO membership and continuing terror-affiliated and anti-Türkiye protests risk endangering Sweden’s NATO bid further.
Ankara said Sweden must first take a more explicit stance against terrorists. Türkiye has frequently voiced that it does not oppose NATO expansion but criticizes Stockholm for not taking action against elements that pose a security threat to Ankara.
Terrorist propaganda, as well as the burning of Islam’s holy book outside Türkiye’s Embassy in Stockholm in January, which sparked anger in the Islamic world, leading to weeks of protests, and calls for a boycott of Swedish goods, have contributed to Sweden’s long-spun process.