Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said there are no outstanding demands on his country from Turkey to secure the ratification of its entry bid for the NATO defense alliance, expecting the move to happen “relatively soon.”
(Bloomberg) — Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said there are no outstanding demands on his country from Turkey to secure the ratification of its entry bid for the NATO defense alliance, expecting the move to happen “relatively soon.”
It has been almost three months since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to support Sweden’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a major breakthrough for the military alliance’s push to strengthen its defenses following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Still, the parliament in Ankara has not moved on the issue.
“We have done our part, and there is nothing additional that Sweden is doing or should do,” Kristersson told reporters on Friday. “We have lived up to our obligations to improve cooperation with Turkey to prevent PKK related financing or activities targeting Turkey.”
Speaking in Visby, on the Swedish island of Gotland, Kristersson cited “much better” cooperation between the two countries’ police and security services as an example of recent progress in Sweden implementing its pledges. He added “other countries are clearly impatient” for the ratification to happen, without naming any.
The decision to start the process to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid solely lies with Erdogan, who recently criticized Stockholm of not preventing Koran burnings in Sweden that sparked anger in the Muslim world and among his conservative support base. He also said Sweden must ensure supporters of separatist Kurdish militant groups, including the PKK, stop staging anti-Turkey protests.
“We are committed to our pledge made at the Vilnius Summit, but we expect Sweden to take concrete steps in the fight against terrorism and implement new legal regulations in the fight against terrorism,” Turkey’s Defense Minister Yasar Guler said in remarks which were distributed on Friday. “The final decision on ratification of its membership lies with our parliament.”
Sweden applied to join NATO for security reasons, alongside neighboring Finland, which gained entry in April, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. All member states have to agree on newcomers, and Turkey is the main holdout alongside Hungary, ostensibly due to the Kurdish issue.
On Thursday, a Swedish man was convicted of hate speech for a Koran-burning related offense for the first time, in what could help smooth the way for Turkey’s parliament to ratify Sweden’s entry. Still, it may prove to be inadequate as Ankara vies with Washington over F-16 fighter jets.
Read More: Sweden Sees First Hate Speech Conviction After Koran Burning
“Most people understand that this is not primarily about Sweden,” Kristersson said. “I won’t comment on bilateral issues between other countries, but I think everybody knows that there are many things being discussed simultaneously.”
(Updates with comments from Turkish defense minister in sixth paragraph)
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