A few days after the re-election of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has blocked the country’s application, NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that he was “completely confident” that Sweden would join the military alliance. Stoltenberg made the statement on the day after the election.
Stoltenberg delivered these words during an informal meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers that took place in Oslo on Wednesday and Thursday. “I am completely confident that Sweden will become a full member of NATO,” Stoltenberg added.
Only two of NATO’s 31 current member states, namely Turkey and Hungary, have not yet ratified Sweden’s participation in the organization.
On April 4, Finland was officially admitted as the 31st member of the Alliance.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Denmark and Norway both abandoned their decades-long policy of maintaining military neutrality and submitted joint membership applications to the European Union.
Erdogan, who was re-elected Sunday for another term that will last for another five years, has stated that Sweden is a safe haven for “terrorists,” particularly members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Stoltenberg told reporters following Tuesday’s meeting, “We will be in close contact with Ankara and President Erdogan to help this process move forward as quickly as possible.” Stoltenberg was referring to the discussion that took place on Tuesday.
“They have already come a very long way since all of the member countries, including Turkey, invited them to become full members at the summit last year,” he continued, referring to a summit that took place in Madrid in the month of June. “They have already come a very long way.”
Since the conference, Erdogan has also claimed that Sweden has violated the terms of a second agreement, in which Turkey had pledged to provide its approval to the bids, but Sweden has denied these allegations.
“Since the fall of last year, I have been of the opinion that Sweden ought to have already been admitted by ratification, and I continue to be of that opinion; however, when 31 countries have to agree, it probably takes a little longer than I would like, so we are working on it,” Stoltenberg said. “I am still of the opinion that Sweden ought to have been admitted by ratification.”
Turkey condemned what it called a “unacceptable” protest staged by Swedish activists directed towards Ankara on Tuesday, drawing the country’s ire for the second time in as many days.
The pro-Kurdish Rojava Committee of Sweden published an anti-Erdogan film on social networks on Monday. The movie shows a PKK flag being projected over the Swedish parliament. This is the most recent of several similar antics that the organisation has pulled, which has regularly infuriated Ankara.
Even if Turkey’s foreign minister is not expected to be present in Oslo this week, the issue of Sweden’s candidacy is likely to be brought up once more at a summit that will take place in Vilnius on July 11 and 12.