Sweden confident over NATO membership

China Daily
Wang Xinjuan
2023-01-10 23:39:05
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) holds an official ceremony to welcome Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (R) in Ankara, Türkiye, on Nov 8, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Sweden's prime minister said he is confident that his country's application to join the NATO military alliance will be approved, but it will not meet all the requirements set down by Turkiye, one of the group's most strategically significant members, which currently opposes Sweden joining.

Both Finland and Sweden applied to join the 30-member group in May in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but Turkiye has objected to their membership, saying that they harbor activists opposed by the Turkish government.

In June, the foreign ministers of the three countries signed an agreement that was commended at the time by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as signaling "a constructive approach", but things have yet to progress.

Speaking to journalists over the weekend, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said the authorities in Ankara "both confirm that we have done what we said we would do, but they also say that they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them".

Last year, the top court in Sweden rejected a bid to extradite a journalist alleged to have links to Fethullah Gulen, who is described by Al Jazeera as a former "strong ally" of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but who the Turkish government said was behind an attempted coup in July 2016.

Kristersson said raising such issues now was outside the parameters of the three-way agreement.

"From time to time, Turkiye mentions individuals that they want to see extradited from Sweden," he said. "To that, I have said that those issues are handled within Swedish law."

He did, however, remain confident that the issue would reach a satisfactory outcome eventually. "We are convinced that Turkiye will make a decision, we just don't know when," he said, adding "the decision is in Turkiye's camp".

'No exact date guaranteed'

Stoltenberg too has said he is hopeful that approval will be given soon.

"I will not guarantee the exact date because this of course at the end of the day has to be a sovereign decision by the Turkish and actually the Hungarian Parliament, because there are two parliaments that haven't yet ratified," he said.

"But I hope and I will continue to work for also ratification in those two parliaments."

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the two countries had "submitted the NATO membership application together (and) we will also complete the process together", going on to say that increased security locally meant increased security internationally.

"Finland's goal is to be a solid member of the alliance, which looks after both its national defense and its ability to participate in the collective defense — one for all and all for one," he said.

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