Erdogan now links Sweden’s entry into NATO with Turkey’s entry into the EU

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Monday that he will maintain the veto on Sweden’s entry into NATO ahead of the organization’s summit to be held this week in Vilnius, Lithuania. Erdogan has even linked the blockade of Sweden with the reactivation of the process for Turkey’s accession to the EU.

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“First pave the way for Turkey in the EU and then let us pave the way for Sweden, just like we did with Finland,” the president said at the Istanbul airport shortly before taking off for the NATO summit.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has responded to Erdogan by pointing out that Sweden has already fulfilled all the requirements agreed in Madrid to lift the veto on its accession. “I support Turkey’s ambitions to become a member of the EU, but it must be remembered that what we agreed in Madrid was a specific list of conditions for Sweden to become a member of the alliance. And Sweden has met those conditions: like removing arms export restrictions, strengthening cooperation with Turkey in the fight against terrorism, and has amended its anti-terror laws.”

On Monday, Erdogan is scheduled to meet Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss Sweden’s accession process in a last-ditch attempt to reach an agreement before the official start. from the summit “It is still possible to have a positive decision. We have the momentum of the summit, but we don’t have any security or any guarantee,” Stoltenberg said.

US President Joe Biden confirmed to CNN on Sunday that he is committed to reaching an agreement with Turkey to sell it the F-16 fighter jets in exchange for facilitating Sweden’s entry into NATO. “Türkiye is looking at the modernization of the F-16 fleet and [el primer ministro griego] Mitsotakis is also looking for some help. What I’m trying to do, frankly, is to reach some kind of consensus where we strengthen NATO in terms of the military capabilities of both Greece and Turkey and allow Sweden in. But it is at stake. It’s not closed”.

Turkey was expelled from the F-35 fighter jet program – in which it had invested 1.4 billion dollars – for the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system. As compensation, Turkey has been seeking facilities for the purchase of 40 F-16 aircraft from Washington for years, but Congress must approve the operation.

On Sunday, Biden and Erdogan spoke by phone and the Turkish president acknowledged that “Sweden has taken some steps in the right direction,” according to the Turkish president’s office.

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