Jens Stoltenberg says the two countries have honoured what was agreed in Vilnius last July and welcomes the Swedes' ever-closer accession

Sweden moves closer to NATO after Turkish disengagement

El secretario General de la OTAN, Jens Stoltenberg - AFP/JOHANNA GERON
photo_camera AFP/JOHANNA GERON - El secretario General de la OTAN, Jens Stoltenberg

After months of controversy between the two countries, Turkey has finally given the green light for Sweden to join NATO. It has done so by means of an accession protocol, signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, which was then sent to the Ottoman parliament for ratification. A decision that, as the Turkish leader has made clear on numerous occasions, was conditional on the United States "fulfilling its promises".
 
Experts suggest that the promises Erdogan spoke of refer to the unblocking of the sale of F-16 fighter jets to the Turkish army. Thus, we are talking about a series of moves that would ultimately result in a Swedish accession that, with controversy over the burning of copies of the Quran, has been delayed for more than 17 months. To this must be added Ankara's resentment towards Stockholm for taking in Kurdish guerrilla activists and sympathisers and not extraditing them, as Turkey demanded.

However, all these differences seem to be behind them, and this is what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wanted to celebrate, highlighting the changes that both countries have made to reach an agreement: "Sweden has amended its constitution, changed its laws, expanded anti-terrorist cooperation and resumed arms exports to Turkey". He added that he was happy to help address Turkey's "legitimate security concerns", and looked forward to "welcoming Sweden as a full NATO ally in the very near future".
 
With one of the most important hurdles cleared, Sweden now faces the final one that, if finally cleared, would pave the way for full NATO membership.  Hungary is the last NATO country that has not yet ratified its membership, although optimism prevails on the Swedish side. It is hoped that this last obstacle will be overcome before the necessary steps can be taken to formalise NATO membership.

PHOTO/FILE – OTAN
PHOTO/FILE – OTAN

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson welcomed President Erdogan's decision on his X (formerly Twitter) account: "We welcome the fact that President Erdogan has signed the protocol on Sweden's ratification of NATO and presented it to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Parliamentary procedures will now begin. We look forward to becoming a member of NATO".

Kritersson himself has met with Stoltenberg to discuss some of the issues leading up to Sweden's NATO membership. During his visit, the Secretary General is also scheduled to meet with Defence Minister P. Jonson, Foreign Minister Tobias Billström and the first deputy speaker of the Swedish Parliament, among others, Kenneth G. Forslund.

He also used his visit to Scandinavia to address the conflict between Israel and Hamas terrorists. He said that "Israel has the right to defend itself in accordance with international law", but that the priority should be to protect civilians, who are currently suffering the consequences of the war. He also points to Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which "should not take advantage of this conflict" because of the already critical situation in the region.

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