NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted on Thursday progress in talks with Turkey on Sweden’s bid for NATO membership and that the goal is for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance before the July summit.
Stoltenberg told Reuters that he and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had agreed to a meeting between Turkey, Finland and Sweden at NATO headquarters in mid-March “to resolve the issues we face in this concerning Turkey’s ratification of the Swedish accession protocol”.
Stoltenberg, who met Erdogan last week in Ankara, sounded more optimistic on the subject than he had in months.
“I see progress,” he said in an interview. “My goal is for Finland and Sweden to be full members by the NATO summit in Lithuania on July 11-12.”
Recall that last year Sweden and Finland asked to join the transatlantic alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine, but Sweden faced objections from Turkey, which claims Stockholm is home to individuals whom Ankara regards as terrorists.
Stoltenberg said that despite the delay in ratification, both countries are safer today than before.
“As part of the accession process, several NATO allies, including the United States, have provided bilateral security guarantees,” he said. “It is therefore inconceivable that Finland or Sweden would face military threats from Russia without a response from NATO.”
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