Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson shake hands in front of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg prior to their meeting, on the eve of the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 10, 2023.
Yves Herman | Afp | Getty Images
BRUSSELS — Sweden expects Turkey to approve its NATO membership “within weeks,” the country’s foreign affairs minister told CNBC after a months-long impasse over Stockholm’s future within the alliance.
Sweden sent a formal application to join NATO back in May 2022, alongside Finland. The latter became an official member in April 2023, but Sweden has been kept waiting by member nations Hungary and Turkey.
Turkey raised issues regarding around what, it says, is Sweden’s harboring of militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Hungary, on the other hand, has raised concerns over previously made comments in Sweden criticizing Hungary’s lack of democratic values.
During a NATO summit in July, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to let Sweden into the alliance. However, the Turkish Parliament is yet to approve it.
“I had a bilateral with my colleague the foreign minister of Turkey, Hakan Fidan, where he told me he expects the ratification to take place within weeks,” Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström said Wednesday in Brussels.
“Of course we don’t take anything for granted from the side of Sweden, but we look forward to this being completed and no new conditions were put forward in this conversation, there were no new demands from the Turkish government,” the minister Billström told reporters.
When asked by CNBC about what sort of guarantees he had received from Hungary, Billström also said he had spoken with his counterpart in Brussels and that Budapest would “not be the last one to ratify” Stockholm’s accession.
“I asked my colleague the foreign minister of Hungary, Mr Péter Szijjártó, yesterday will you still hold to your promise that you won’t be the last one to ratify Sweden? And he said ‘yes, we wont be the last to ratify’ — that means it is more in the hands of Ankara than maybe of Budapest,” the Swedish minister said.
He added: “We expect white smoke from Budapest the moment there’s white smoke from Ankara.”