The allies of the NATO maintain their claim for the income of Sweden to the organization and put pressure on Türkiye to speed up its definition, after the electoral period.
The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkenurged this Tuesday the re-elected Recep Tayyip Erdogan to abandon its objections regarding the Nordic country’s entry into the bloc in order to move forward with its ratification.
“The time has come to finalize Sweden’s accession,” he told a joint news conference with the country’s Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, in the European city of Lulea.
“We urge both Turkey and Hungary – which has not yet done so either – to ratify membership as soon as possible. There’s no reason for more time. Sweden is already prepared,” the US official continued.
Sweden, which historically maintained a neutral position to avoid clashes with Moscow, applied to join NATO in 2022, along with Finlandafter the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Helsinki has already received the go-ahead but Stockholm is still awaiting the definition from Ankara, which considers that the Swedish authorities are not doing enough to extradite dissidents with asylum in the Scandinavian country, whom Turkey accuses of terrorism. The United States claims that, by contrast, Sweden has already addressed these concerns of Erdogan’s.
Added to this, in January a protest took place that included the burning of a Koran in Stockholm and further raised the tension between the countries.
However, the Swedish Executive is confident that, having concluded Erdogan’s electoral campaign, he will change his position, which is due -in large part- to internal political ends.
Blinken hopes that this change will happen in the not too distant future, allowing the country to join the alliance before the middle of the year.
“We expect this process to be completed in the coming weeks. We have no doubt that it can be, it must be, and we hope it will be.”he concluded.
For his part, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenbergsupported his peer’s statements and assured that it is “absolutely possible” that Sweden will be a full member of the Alliance by the time the next leaders summitwhich will take place in Vilnius on July 11 and 12.
He recognized, however, that there are no “guarantees” that this will happen.
“There are no guarantees but it is absolutely possible to reach a solution and make possible the decision on Sweden’s full membership for the Vilnius summit”, he commented and added that, in order to achieve this, he is “in constant contact” with the Turkish authorities.
Stoltenberg’s statements were made during an informal meeting that takes place in Oslo with the foreign ministers of the member countries and of which the Turkish official, Mevlut Cavusoglunot participate.
The foreign minister excused himself, citing the need for his presence in Ankara where, this week, the Parliament will be constituted.
That is why Stoltenberg downplayed his absence and, on the contrary, commented: “I don’t think it’s a political message. I think it’s an absolutely normal reason for not being able to attend.”
Another of the voices that demonstrated his support for Stockholm was that of the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Storewho considered that the remaining six weeks for the summit in Lithuania are “absolutely enough time, if the will is there”.
NATO’s role in international politics has grown in importance in the last year. Its support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion has been a fundamental bastion for kyiv’s defense and response to the attacks and which, in Stoltenberg’s eyes, will allow it to “continue freeing more occupied territory.”
Among the assistance provided by the bloc are the shipment of tanks, ammunition and various artillery, as well as anti-aircraft defense equipment. Also, recently, several Western countries have expressed their willingness to train Zelensky’s troops in the handling of F-16 fighter jets.
Store, referred to this and assured that Norway “is focused on support the training of Ukrainian air combat personnel for the eventuality – in the future – that Ukraine gains that capability.”
To make the Alliance’s response increasingly effective, at the July summit members will agree on a new military spending target that each country must achieve and will imply an increase in 2% of national GDP to the defense, as a minimum and “not as a maximum”.
“We need to recognize that 2% is a minimum to meet our obligations as a NATO ally,” Stoltenberg said.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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