The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has declared that it is time for Sweden to join NATO, as it has done everything necessary to secure Turkey’s approval for membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.
“It is time to finish the ratification process for Sweden”, added the head of the largest military alliance during an interview given to the Swedish daily Aftonbladet.
In May, Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-standing policy of military non-commitment, and applied to join NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This move requires unanimous approval from all alliance members. Turkey has blocked the process and pressured Sweden and Finland to arrest groups it considers terrorist organizations and to extradite people suspected of terrorism-related crimes.
Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sweden was not even halfway to fulfilling the commitments it had made to secure Turkey’s support for NATO membership.
His comments came after a Swedish court ruled against extraditing a journalist wanted by Turkey over alleged links to the failed 2016 coup.
“I am convinced that Sweden will become a member of NATO. I don’t want to give an exact date when it will happen. It will be an unusual and fast process of joining the alliance. It usually takes several years,” said Stoltenberg, among other things.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that Sweden has fulfilled its obligations and that the decision now belongs to Turkey.
“We have a very good process together with Finland and Turkey and we are doing exactly what we said, which Turkey is now confirming,” Kristersson said on Sunday, the first day of the People and Defense conference in Salen, a resort town. ski in Sweden.
Stoltenberg and Swedish security and foreign policy experts were at the conference. There was no immediate reaction from Turkey to Stoltenberg’s and Kristersson’s comments. The parliaments of the 28 NATO countries have already ratified the membership of Sweden and Finland. Turkey and Hungary are the only members that have not yet given their approval.