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14 Jul, 2023 17:59

Swedish NATO membership not a done deal – Erdogan aide

The matter will now go to the Turkish parliament, the ruling party's spokesman has said
Swedish NATO membership not a done deal – Erdogan aide

Türkiye has opened the door to the process of Sweden joining NATO but has not yet given its approval, Omer Celik, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, said on Friday.

In a live broadcast on Haberturk TV, Celik said there was a tripartite memorandum between Türkiye, Sweden and NATO about the preconditions for membership, in which Stockholm pledged to undertake certain steps.

If the Turkish parliament is told that Sweden has produced “a strong satisfactory result” by complying with its obligations, AKP deputies will vote to ratify its membership of the US-led military bloc, Celik told Haberturk.

Asked when this might happen, Celik said “at the next session” of the parliament, meaning not before October or November.

Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Türkiye had agreed to support Sweden’s application after a months-long delay.

Erdogan had reportedly attempted to tie his approval of Sweden’s membership bid to Türkiye being admitted to the European Union. In return, the US has signaled willingness to unblock a sale of F-16 fighters to Ankara. 

Commenting on Türkiye’s relations with the US, Celik said that while meeting between Erdogan and US President Joe Biden promised “a new page,” the overall outcome remained to be seen. Relations could improve much faster if the US would change its mind about supporting Kurdish-led militants in Syria, Celik noted.

NATO had hoped to admit Sweden and Finland together before the bloc’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania this week. Finland eventually joined on its own, after Türkiye held up Sweden’s application over concerns that Stockholm was protecting Kurdish organizations that Ankara has labeled as terrorists. The US-dominated bloc technically requires the consensus of all 31 members before admitting new ones.