Top diplomats from Turkey and Sweden will meet at NATO headquarters next Thursday to discuss Stockholm’s ambition to join the alliance, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“The time has come for Sweden to join NATO as a full member,” Stoltenberg said during a news conference on Wednesday.
NATO allies have been urging Turkey to give Sweden the go-ahead by the time a summit is held in Lithuania on July 11-12.
However, Ankara is still refusing to join the US-led military alliance after months of delaying.
Hungary’s parliament was supposed to vote on Sweden’s proposal by the conclusion of its “extraordinary summer session” on July 7, but it was not listed as an order of business this week.
Stoltenberg stated earlier this week that the talks would involve Turkish, Swedish, and Finnish foreign ministries and intelligence officials.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, which had previously attempted but failed to join the alliance whose members agree to defend one another.
‘However, decisions must be consensual, and Turkey has used its clout to put pressure on the two countries over the presence of Kurdish insurgents.
Turkey abandoned its objections to Sweden’s northern neighbor Finland joining NATO earlier this year, and Helsinki joined the alliance in April.
Sweden has been a NATO “invitee” since June 2022, but Turkey and Hungary have stalled its membership bid, which must be ratified by all 31 member states.
Western diplomats thought that after a hard-fought re-election last month, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would soften his stance on the diplomatically delicate topic.
Western allies and Stockholm have emphasized that Sweden has fulfilled the conditions of a last-year agreement with Ankara.
This agreement includes a pledge to crack down on opposition Kurdish movements, including as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers “terrorist” groups.
Turkey abandoned its objections to Sweden’s northern neighbor Finland joining earlier this year, and Helsinki joined NATO in April.