NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the AP that he told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an interview that it was “time” to approve Sweden’s entry into the Alliance.
Stoltenberg met with Erdogan during the ongoing COP28 climate conference in Dubai. “I told him it was high time,” Stoltenberg told the AP. The Secretary General has not yet specified when the ratification of the accession could take place.
Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO member states that have not yet approved the entry of a Scandinavian country. Ankara has been delaying ratification for more than a year. She has repeatedly accused Stockholm of being too lax about Turkey’s security problems. She is mainly bothered by Sweden’s position on the Kurdish issue.
According to Turkey, Sweden is too benevolent towards the Kurdish organizations that allegedly find a safe haven in Sweden. This is, for example, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, which Turkey has designated as a terrorist organization. The European Union, of which Sweden is also a member, is approaching it in the same way.
A shift in negotiations took place already in July at the NATO summit. There, Erdogan promised to send the entry documents to the Turkish parliament for ratification. However, the process slowed significantly in the parliament. Lawmakers are debating the decision at the level of the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs. There, however, the debate froze at a dead end.
At the end of September, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared that his country would definitely not rush to ratify Sweden’s membership. His comments came after a senior Hungarian politician said he did not expect parliament to debate the issue as early as the autumn.
Erdogan should meet with Orbán in mid-December in Budapest. They should conduct the negotiations mainly at the Turkish-Hungarian Strategic Cooperation Council. It is not clear whether they will also discuss the ratification of Sweden’s membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.
Together with Sweden, Finland also decided to join the Alliance. It became a member already in March of this year after all member countries approved its entry.