New Delhi: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said Turkey should approve Sweden’s stalled bid for membership “as soon as possible”. He said that Sweden has fulfilled all the requirements and deserves to join the alliance.
Sweden applied for NATO membership in March 2022, after a referendum in which 52 percent of the voters supported the move. Sweden has been a close partner of NATO for decades and has contributed to many NATO missions and operations. Sweden has also increased its defense spending and modernized its armed forces.
NATO’s other 29 allies had hoped to be able to formally welcome Sweden into the alliance at a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels this week. But the process is still at the committee level in the Turkish parliament, which has to ratify Sweden’s accession protocol.
Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members to not yet have ratified Sweden joining the alliance, more than 18 months after it applied for membership. The other 28 NATO members have already completed the ratification process.
Turkey started the ratification process after a deal at a NATO summit in July
Turkey started the ratification process after a deal at a NATO summit in July, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to drop his objections to Sweden’s membership. Erdogan had previously linked Sweden’s bid to the resolution of a dispute over Cyprus, a divided island where Turkey and Greece support rival communities.
The deal was brokered by US President Joe Biden, who offered Turkey incentives such as increased cooperation on security and trade. Biden also urged Erdogan to improve Turkey’s relations with other NATO allies, especially France and Greece, which have clashed with Turkey over various issues.
The Turkish parliament began to debate Sweden’s bid to join on December 1, 2023, but the process has been slow and contentious. Some Turkish lawmakers have raised concerns about Sweden’s stance on human rights, democracy, and regional issues. Some have also accused Sweden of supporting Kurdish militants, who are considered terrorists by Turkey.
Stoltenberg expressed his frustration and called for more speed in the ratification process
Stoltenberg expressed his frustration and called for more speed in the ratification process. He said that he had communicated his expectations to Turkey many times and that he wanted them to finalize the accession process as soon as possible.
He said that Sweden had delivered on what they promised and that now the time had come for Turkey to finalize the accession process. He said that Sweden was a valuable and reliable partner for NATO and that its membership would strengthen the alliance and the transatlantic bond.
He said that he would have liked to see more speed in the ratification process and that it was no secret. He said that he would like Turkey to finalise that and that it was exactly what he had communicated many times.