Home International Turkey expects to ratify Sweden’s Nato accession ‘within weeks’ – minister

Turkey expects to ratify Sweden’s Nato accession ‘within weeks’ – minister

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Turkey has told Sweden it expects to ratify its long-delayed accession to the Nato military alliance within weeks, Sweden’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan speaks with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom ahead of the Nato Foreign Ministers meeting at Nato Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, November 28, 2023. Picture: Saul Loeb, Pool via Reuters

By Andrew Gray and Ingrid Melander

BRUSSELS – Turkey has told Sweden it expects to ratify its long-delayed accession to the Nato military alliance within weeks, Sweden’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Sweden and Finland asked to join Nato last year after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, whose country is a Nato member, raised objections over what he said was the two countries’ protection of groups that Ankara deems terrorists.

Turkey endorsed Finland’s membership bid in April, but has kept Sweden waiting.

“I had a bilateral with my colleague, the (Turkish) foreign minister … where he told me that he expected the ratification to take place within weeks,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told reporters before the second day of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers.

There was no immediate confirmation or comment by Turkey.

Turkey has demanded that Sweden take more steps to rein in local members of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.

In response, Stockholm introduced an anti-terrorism bill that makes membership of a terrorist organisation illegal, while also lifting arms export restrictions on Turkey. It says it has upheld its part of a deal signed last year.

Some in Nato had hoped Sweden’s ratification would be completed by now, in time for an accession ceremony to take place on the sidelines of the Brussels meeting.

“The Turkish foreign minister (Hakan Fidan) didn’t present a date but said ‘within weeks’. He expected the ratification of Sweden’s Nato protocol to be made within weeks. That was what he told me yesterday,” Billstrom said.

His remarks echoed comments by a senior US State Department official.

“I will say the summary of the meeting was it will be done before the end of the year,” said the official, speaking on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Sweden’s Nato membership is also pending ratification by Hungary.

“(Prime Minister) Viktor Orban has repeatedly said that Hungary won’t be the last to ratify Sweden’s membership,” Billstrom said, adding that Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto again confirmed this when they talked on Tuesday.

“That means that it is more in the hands of Ankara than maybe of Budapest. We expect white smoke from Budapest the moment there is white smoke from Ankara,” Billstrom said.

REUTERS

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