NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday called on Turkey to lift its objections to Sweden, which “has fulfilled its obligations” and to finalize its membership of the Alliance “as soon as possible”.
Mr. Stoltenberg, who hailed “a productive meeting”, spoke to the press after a two-hour meeting at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reinvested the day before for a new term. five years at the head of the country.
Turkey has been blocking Sweden’s entry into the Atlantic Alliance for thirteen months, reproaching it for its leniency towards the Kurdish militants it hosts on its soil.
For Mr. Stoltenberg, “it is time” for this membership to be confirmed before the Alliance summit in Vilnius on 11 and 12 July.
To this end, he announced the creation of a “permanent mechanism” between NATO and Turkey with a next meeting “in the week of June 12” – without specifying where it will be held.
“Sweden’s membership in NATO will strengthen its security but it will also make Turkey stronger”, he insisted, adding that he “intends to finalize Sweden’s accession as soon as possible”.
Turkey remains the only one of the 31 member states of NATO with Hungary to have not yet ratified this enlargement after the green light given to Finland.
Simultaneously, an anti-Erdogan demonstration and against this membership was authorized on Sunday in Stockholm – despite protests from Ankara – at the initiative of an “Alliance against NATO”, which notably includes the Rojava committee, a group of support for Kurdish armed groups in Syria.
Freedom of assembly
For Mr. Stoltenberg, “freedom of assembly is at the heart of the democratic values of our societies”, but “the demonstrators want to prevent Sweden from joining NATO: we must not let them win”, he said. -he assures.
The NATO boss who was invited to Ankara on Saturday at the inauguration ceremony of President Erdogan, re-elected on May 28, also “thanked Turkey” for having deployed reinforcements in Kosovo, in the grip of violent riots.
Ankara participates in KFOR, the multinational force led by the Atlantic Alliance in Kosovo, which has decided to send 700 additional troops.
The new Turkish Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, former head of MIT, the Turkish intelligence service, who succeeds Mevlut Cavusoglu, attended the interview, according to photos released by the presidency.
Fulfilling a key demand from Ankara, Sweden’s parliament passed a new law banning activities linked to extremist groups, strengthening its terrorism legislation, which came into force last week.
The head of Swedish diplomacy remarked on this occasion that his country fulfilled “all the conditions” allowing the last oppositions to be lifted without delay.
“Sweden has kept all the commitments we made at the Madrid summit last year, including new legislation on terrorism,” Tobias Billström told a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. , Thursday in Oslo.
“The time has come for Turkey and Hungary to start ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.”
In congratulating Mr. Erdogan on his re-election, US President Joe Biden also reminded him of NATO’s expectations regarding Sweden: for the first time, he seemed to link the lifting of the Turkish veto and the delivery of the F -16, claimed by Ankara.
Since then, Washington has backpedaled by saying that Sweden was not a condition for the delivery of the planes, even if the United States also wanted its membership to be recorded “by the NATO summit in Vilnius”.
Desired by the American administration, the arms contract for the delivery of F-16s has so far been blocked by American parliamentarians, worried about the in-between displayed by Turkey with Russia.