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Bloomberg: Stoltenberg says Sweden should join NATO by November

by Martin Fornusek October 24, 2023 5:36 PM 2 min read
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Oct. 11, 2023. (Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP via Getty Images)
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reportedly told allies in a letter last week that Sweden should join the military bloc at the latest during a foreign ministers' meeting on Nov. 28-29, Bloomberg wrote on Oct. 24, citing the Swedish government's spokesperson.

Stockholm seems to be getting closer to entering the alliance as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a protocol on Sweden's NATO accession on Oct. 23, leaving a ratification by the Turkish parliament as the final step.

"I now count on the speedy ratification by the Turkish parliament," Stoltenberg said in a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, but without publicly commenting on any concrete timeline.

"Sweden is fully ready to join NATO. The time has come," he added.

Both Sweden and Finland applied to join the alliance in May 2022 due to Russia's aggression against Ukraine. Turkey initially blocked both of their bids but gave the green light to Helsinki in this year's March.

Among the main reasons why Ankara denied Stockholm's entry was the Swedish support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists. Following prolonged and tense negotiations, Erdogan voiced readiness to relay Sweden's bid to the Turkish parliament in July.

If Ankara gives its green light, the only obstacle remaining on Sweden's path to NATO is Hungary. According to Stoltenberg, Budapest has already signaled it "doesn't want to delay" the process.

"I have been assured on a couple of occasions by Hungary's prime minister that they won't delay Sweden's accession, and I believe they will stand by that," the Swedish head of government said.

Hungary's parliament has yet to schedule a vote on Swedish accession, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in late September that his country is in no hurry to do so.

Budapest's friendly gestures toward Russia amid the ongoing war against Ukraine have raised concerns among the allies. Orban met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week in China, and Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto visited Moscow earlier in October.

Erdogan: Turkey to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid if US approves F-16 sales to Ankara
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish parliament would ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO if the U.S. approves the sale of its F-16 fighter jets to Ankara, Reuters reported on Sept. 26.
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