Erdogan, Stoltenberg meet for talks on Sweden's NATO bid

    REGION  04 June 2023 - 19:29

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has received NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Istanbul.

    The meeting at the Dolmabahce Palace started at 14:00 (15:00 Baku time) and is being held behind closed doors to the media, Anadolu reports.

    In addition to developments in the region, the sides will mainly discuss the process of Sweden's accession to NATO.

    Stockholm’s accession has been delayed due to objections from member countries Türkiye and Hungary. However, the United States and NATO want to see Sweden join before a NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius on July 11-12, according to Daily Sabah.

    Continuing terror-affiliated and anti-Türkiye protests risk endangering Sweden’s NATO bid.

    In a historic turnaround, Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military non-alliance and applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.

    Last June, Türkiye and the two Nordic countries signed a memorandum to address Ankara’s legitimate security concerns, paving the way for their eventual membership in the alliance.

    But recent provocative demonstrations by terrorist sympathisers and Islamophobic figures in Stockholm have led Turkish leaders to question Sweden’s commitment to take the steps necessary for NATO membership.

    Ankara ratified Finland’s membership in March, enabling it to become a full member of the defense alliance this week.

    Ankara said Sweden must first take a more explicit stance against terrorists. Türkiye has frequently voiced that it does not oppose NATO expansion but criticizes Stockholm for not taking action against elements that pose a security threat to Ankara.

    Terrorist propaganda, as well as the burning of Islam’s holy book outside Türkiye’s Embassy in Stockholm in January, which sparked anger in the Islamic world, leading to weeks of protests, and calls for a boycott of Swedish goods, have contributed to Sweden’s long-spun process.

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