Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that Turkey could approve Sweden’s membership in NATO if European nations facilitate Turkey’s bid to join the European Union (EU). Erdogan made these remarks in Ankara before departing for the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. He called on European countries to open the way for Turkey’s EU membership, stating that Turkey has been waiting for over 50 years. Erdogan’s comments shed light on the ongoing negotiations surrounding Sweden’s NATO accession and Turkey’s EU aspirations.
Erdogan highlighted Turkey’s long-standing desire to join the EU, noting that the country has been waiting at the EU’s doorstep for more than five decades. Erdogan made a plea to the European countries that have kept Turkey waiting, urging them to pave the way for Turkey’s EU membership. In return, he stated that Turkey would pave the way for Sweden’s NATO membership, similar to what was done for Finland in the past.
Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, but its bid has faced challenges due to concerns over democratic backsliding and disputes with EU-member Cyprus. Erdogan’s comments emphasized Turkey’s frustration with the delayed progress in its EU accession process. The Turkish president called for European nations to address the issues hindering Turkey’s membership bid. Suggesting that progress on EU accession could facilitate Sweden’s NATO membership.
Optimism Surrounding Swedish NATO Accession:
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström expressed optimism that Turkey would eventually drop its objections to Sweden’s NATO membership. He stated that it is a question of when, not if, Sweden will join the alliance. Billström hoped to receive a positive signal from President Erdogan during their meeting in Vilnius ahead of the NATO summit. Indicating that the ratification process in the Turkish Parliament can begin.
Turkey has cited concerns over Kurdish militants and other groups as reasons for stalling Sweden’s NATO accession. Ankara has urged Sweden to take further action against these perceived threats to Turkey’s national security. Anti-Turkey and anti-Islam protests in Stockholm added complexities to the negotiations. However, both sides remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached, potentially paving the way for Sweden’s NATO membership.