Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told reporters Friday that Sweden has done all it can do to satisfy an agreement with Turkey that will secure Sweden’s path to NATO membership, and the matter is in the hands of Turkey’s parliament.
Kristersson made the comments a day after NATO’s defense ministerial meeting concluded in Brussels with no further movement on Sweden’s membership.
The Swedish prime minister said Friday that his country had satisfied its obligations per an agreement with Turkey made in July that allowed its application to proceed. He said there is nothing further they can do. He expressed optimism the issue would be resolved soon.
Sweden, along with fellow Nordic nation Finland had applied for NATO membership in 2022. But Turkey held up approval of their application, claiming Sweden had been too soft on Kurdish militants and other groups Turkey considers security threats. Membership applications to NATO must be unanimously approved by all 31 members.
Following a meeting ahead of a July NATO Summit in Vilnius, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan relented after Sweden agreed to take steps to ensure the militant groups were not operating in their nation, along with an agreement with the United States to sell Turkey F-16 fighter jets.
Erdogan said he would send Sweden’s application protocol on to parliament for its consideration. But when Turkish lawmakers opened their latest session at the beginning of this month ratification of the Swedish application was not on the agenda.
The U.S. fighter-jet agreement might now be the hold up. Some members of the U.S. Congress — as of last month — balked at the sale of the F-16’s, citing tensions between Turkey and Greece. The Turkish president indicated last month that ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership is now linked to the sale of the jets.
In an interview with The Associated Press Thursday at the conclusion the ministerial meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke with Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler during Thursday’s meeting and he “made it clear that Turkey would stand by the [[July]] agreement.”
Stoltenberg said he now expects a speedy ratification of the agreement.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France Presse.