Turkey has agreed to back Sweden’s NATO bid: ‘Historic step at a critical time’

Turkey agreed to allow Sweden to join NATO as the countries ironed out their differences in talks in Vilnius. “Completing Sweden’s accession to NATO is an historic step that benefits the security of all NATO allies at this critical time. It makes us all stronger and safer,” NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan waves as he leaves after his meeting with Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.(Reuters)

Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said he was “very happy” and hailed “a good day for Sweden”. The decision taken by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan must still be approved by the county’s parliament. This comes as Hungary is yet to greenlight Sweden’s bid, but the country’s premier Viktor Orban has signalled he will follow Recep Erdogan’s lead.

US president Joe Biden said, “I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO ally” while German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock welcomed the “good news” on Twitter.

Why was Turkey stopping Sweden’s bid?

Turkey has been holding up Sweden’s bid to join NATO as it accused the country of harbouring Kurdish activists which Ankara regards as terrorists. After the talks, Sweden said that it will “actively support efforts to reinvigorate Turkiye’s EU accession process, including modernisation of the EU-Turkiye Customs Union and visa liberalisation.”

How does this decision help Turkey?

EU chief Charles Michel, president of the European Council hailed a “good meeting” saying that they had “explored opportunities ahead to bring EU-Turkey cooperation back to the forefront and re-energise our relations”. Turkey has been a formal candidate to join the European Union since 2005.

What about Ukraine’s bid to join NATO?

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said, “It is also the best moment to offer clarity on the invitation to Ukraine to become member.”

“Ukraine deserves to be in the alliance. Not now, because now there’s war, but we need a clear signal and this signal is needed right now,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said.

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