Historic Meeting Sees Turkey’s President Erdogan Agree To Back Sweden’s NATO Membership

Image from the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Image from the NATO summit in Vilnius. Credit; Twitter@jensstoltenberg

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed this Monday, July 10, to back Sweden’s accession to NATO.

The historic decision came after a meeting in Vilnius with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. The three were in Lithuania ahead of tomorrow’s Alliance summit in the capital.

‘Glad to announce that after the meeting I hosted with @RTErdogan & @SwedishPM, President Erdogan has agreed to forward #Sweden‘s accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly ASAP & ensure ratification. This is an historic step which makes all #NATO Allies stronger & safer’, Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.

Erdogan had refused to ratify the Scandinavian nation’s entry into NATO after a series of Koran burnings took place earlier this in both Stockholm and then Copenhagen.

Istanbul had imposed a list of demands on the Swedish government, including the extradition of suspected terrorists that Turkey wanted to question in connection with a previous failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016. It accused Stockholm of giving safe haven to these people.

Sweden applied to join NATO at the same time as Finland

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO at the same time, but while the Finns were subsequently established as a member of the Alliance, Erdogan delayed all attempts to get Sweden ratified.

Earlier in the day, the Turkish leader appeared to be using the moment to reignite his hopes of joining the European Union.

His country had been blocked from becoming a member of the bloc. He insisted that the same leaders who were against Turkey joining the EU were now asking him to back Sweden’s candidacy for NATO.

‘Almost all the NATO members are EU members. I now am addressing these countries, which are making Turkey wait for more than 50 years, and I will address them again in Vilnius’, he stated just before boarding his flight to Vilnius.

‘First, open the way to Turkey’s membership of the European Union, and then we will open it for Sweden, just as we had opened it for Finland’, he insisted. He claimed that when he had a phone call last Sunday with US President Joe Biden, he told him the exact same thing.

Human rights violations saw Turkey’s application in 1987 to join the EU’s predecessor, the European Economic, put on hold. In 1999, the country became an EU candidate with formal negotiations beginning in 2005.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com