UPDATE: Sweden could become a NATO member ‘within a couple of weeks’

Image of Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström.

Image of Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström. Credit: European People's Party/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

UPDATE: Tuesday, November 28 at 9:31 pm

SWEDEN could become a NATO member ‘within a couple of weeks’ according to comments made at a meeting in Brussels this Tuesday, November 28.

While attending a meeting between the NATO countries’ foreign ministers, Hakan Fidan, the Turkish Foreign Minister, reportedly indicated this to the Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström.

‘He clearly expressed the opinion that Sweden should be able to become a member within a couple of weeks’, the politician said.

He added: ‘It is a message we welcome, but it also remains to be seen whether this will be the case’, without offering any exact date for the country’s accession. ‘I don’t define weeks. I’m just saying what the Turkish foreign minister said’, reported dn.se.

Sweden’s application to join the Alliance has been continually delayed, with Turkey and Hungary the only two NATO members yet to ratify it.


Sunday, November 26 at 5:39 pm

THERE is concern in Sweden that the recent suggestion made by a Swedish MP regarding mosques could jeopardise the country’s NATO application.

During his recent speech at Landsdagarna in Västerås, the Sweden Democrat’s (SD) leader Aron Emilsson called for a plan to stop all new construction of mosques and demolish existing ones.

Emilsson claimed that mosques were hubs for radicalisation and violent propaganda: ‘It is not a right to come to our country and build monuments to a foreign and imperialist ideology’, he said.

The politician – who is chairman of the Riksdag’s foreign affairs committee – even accused the Social Democrats of being an active part of the Islamist movement in Sweden. His speech led to widespread reactions both at home and internationally.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson was quick to take to social media to declare that no places of worship in Sweden would ever demolished and that Sweden had freedom of religion.

He tweeted: ‘In Sweden, there is a constitutional right to freedom of religion, based on the core principle that individuals can practice their religion individually and together with others. This applies equally to all – Christians, Muslims, Jews and members of other faiths’.

Kristersson continued: ‘In Sweden, we do not demolish places of worship. As a society, we must fight back against violent extremism whatever its grounds – but we will do so within the framework of a democratic state and the rule of law’.

‘Those who make antisemitic statements or agitate against Muslims insult people in our own country and damage Sweden and Swedish interests internationally. What we need now is to come together – not further polarisation’, the PM concluded.

According to Emilsson, his speech will not affect the outcome of Sweden’s entry into the Alliance. ‘I don’t think this particular part is what will affect the NATO accession’, he commented, as reported by aftonbladet.se this Sunday, November 26.

Pointing out to the newspaper that his words were not a concrete proposal but that they could be seen as a direction in which the party wanted to go, he explained: I point out that I think it is reasonable to take action against this. Then you have to look at what is constitutionally possible, but something must be done’.

However, his words have been widely reported in the Turkish media which has led some experts to suggest it poses a risk to the NATO application.

What did the experts think?

Turkey expert Michael Sahlin, also a former ambassador, described the latest development as: ‘a unique security-political piano stomp’, and something that could affect the Swedish NATO process.

However, when told this by the aforementioned news outlet Emilsson, he offered a different opinion. ‘It is far too early to say. Had there been a genuine ambition to approve Sweden’s application on the part of Turkey or Hungary, it would have been done’, he suggested.

Emilsson added: ‘We know that the road has been shaky. So this particular part, I think, is not what will affect the NATO accession, neither in the short term nor in the long term’.

Pressed by the publication about Sahlin’s ‘piano stomp’ claim, the politician continued: ‘Yes, we know that this is a part that can naturally cause the relationships to become strained. But we know how the Swedish NATO process was used during the Turkish election campaign, how we became a bat in Turkish domestic politics’.

‘Sweden has fulfilled all commitments in the agreement with Turkey and Finland, so we do not need to be ashamed of anything as a state’, he concluded.

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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