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NATO chief: Erdogan backs Sweden's membership bid

by Martin Fornusek July 10, 2023 11:26 PM 2 min read
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, July 10, 2023. (Source: NATO)
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on July 10 that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will forward Sweden's NATO bid to Turkey's parliament.

"Glad to announce that after the meeting I hosted with (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and (Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson), President Erdogan has agreed to forward Sweden's accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly ASAP and ensure ratification. This is a historic step which makes all NATO Allies stronger and safer," Stoltenberg wrote on social media.

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.

According to NATO's press release, Stockholm has committed to developing "counter-terrorism" cooperation with the Turkish government just as Erdogan opened the door to Sweden's membership.

Kuleba: NATO allies agree on simplified procedure for Ukraine’s accession
“Following intensive talks,” NATO allies agreed to remove the Membership Action Plan (MAP) from Ukraine’s path toward accession, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on July 10.

"Since the last NATO Summit, Sweden and Türkiye have worked closely together to address Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns," NATO's statement said.

"As part of that process, Sweden has amended its constitution, changed its laws, significantly expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against the (Kurdistan Worker's Party), and resumed arms exports to Türkiye, all steps set out in the Trilateral Memorandum agreed in 2022."

Sweden will also step up economic cooperation with Turkey and actively support Ankara's EU accession process. Earlier on July 10, Erdogan said he would be willing to back Stockholm's bid if the EU opens the way for Turkey's membership.

The announcement comes on the eve of the NATO summit in Vilnius, to be held on July 11-12.

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