Sweden’s derailed ascension to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) may be back on track, after widespread pressure on Turkey, one of the two NATO countries yet to ratify the Scandinavian country’s bid – the other is Hungary.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is pressing Turkey to fulfill their promise and quickly ratify Sweden’s membership in the military organization.
It comes three months after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to help the process in the Turkish parliament, who reconvened in early October.
All 31 NATO allies must endorse Sweden’s membership, and so far, Turkey and Hungary have failed to do so.
Erdogan said he was withholding Sweden’s ratification because it is too soft on Kurdish militants and other security threats. Turkey also was angered by a series of Quran-burning demonstrations in Sweden.
Associated Press reported:
“’Many allies would like to see speedy progress on this ratification’, Stoltenberg told The Associated Press after chairing a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. ‘Sweden has delivered on what they promised, and now we need the ratification of Swedish membership’.”
Sweden abandoned its military non-alignment in the wake of the Ukraine war, seeking security in the NATO fold.
At a NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital in July, Erdogan finally agreed to would transmit Sweden’s accession protocol to the Turkish parliament for ratification.
“Erdogan dropped his opposition in July after the Biden administration signaled it would let Turkey buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits from the United States. Ankara also received assurances from Sweden that it would help revive Turkey’s own quest to join the European Union.
Under the deal, NATO as an organization agreed to address Turkey’s concerns about terrorism. Stoltenberg said Thursday that he had appointed Assistant Secretary General Tom Goffus will serve as his special coordinator for counter-terrorism.
‘It demonstrates that NATO, Sweden, we have delivered on the agreement from Vilnius, and now we should also see that Turkey ratifies the Swedish accession’, Stoltenberg said.”
As for the connection between Turkey’s allowing Sweden to join NATO and the sale by the US of F-16 fighters, contrary to the AP piece above, other sources suggest that Biden was the one making this link, as Reuters reported in September:
“U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is linking F-16 fighter jet sales to Turkey with Turkish ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership bid, and this ‘seriously upsets’ Ankara, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
Addressing a press conference after a G20 summit in the Indian capital New Delhi, Erdogan said he had a ‘pull-aside’ meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the gathering and they discussed the transfer of F-16s to Turkey.
Biden made a connection between the supply of F-16s and Turkish action in ratifying Sweden’s application to join NATO, Erdogan said. ‘This approach seriously upsets us’, he said.”
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