NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced that President Erdogan agreed to forward Sweden’s bid to the Turkish parliament.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to support Sweden’s bid to join NATO after a year of blocking the move due to Turkish security concerns.
NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg announced on Monday that Erdogan had agreed to forward Sweden’s membership bid for the alliance to the Turkish parliament.
After talks in Vilnius, Lithuania, with Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Stoltenberg said Turkey had agreed to proceed.
“I am happy to announce … President Erdogan agreed to pass the accession protocol for Sweden to the grand national assembly as soon as possible, and work closely with the assembly to ensure ratification,” Stoltenberg told a news conference.
“This is a historic day.”
Sweden’s NATO entry has been blocked by objections from Turkey since last year, which has accused Stockholm of harboring Kurdish activists Ankara considers “terrorists”.
But a joint statement issued after the three-way talks said that Turkey and Sweden would work closely together on “counter-terrorism coordination” and also develop bilateral trade relations.
‘At the gates of the EU’
On Monday, Erdogan raised the stakes by demanding that the European Union revive its stalled EU membership bid as a precondition for Sweden to join NATO.
Erdogan’s surprise announcement before leaving for a NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital added new uncertainty to Sweden’s bid to become the alliance’s 32nd member.
This is the first time that Erdogan has linked his country’s ambition to join the EU to Sweden’s efforts to become a member of NATO.
“Turkey has been waiting at the door of the European Union for more than 50 years now, and almost all NATO member countries are now members of the European Union,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.
“I make this call to these countries that have been waiting for Turkey at the gates of the European Union for more than 50 years. Come and open the way for Turkey’s membership in the European Union. If you give the way for Turkey, we will pave the way for Sweden as we did in Finland.