NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday that he was planning to visit Turkish capital Ankara “in the near future” to discuss Sweden’s bid to join the alliance.
“I spoke with the president earlier this week. I always highlight the importance of making progress on the accession of Sweden,” Stoltenberg said at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Oslo.
The NATO chief will discuss ways to “ensure the fastest possible accession of Sweden” with Turkish authorities.
“Turkey has some legitimate security concerns,” Stoltenberg said. “It is important to work together with Turkey to fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”
Sweden has done a lot “to step up the fight against terrorism and cooperation with Turkey”, he continued.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland ended their long-time neutrality and started the process to join NATO. All alliance members except Turkey and Hungary have since ratified the accession protocols for both, while the two countries did so for Finland in March, following nine months of uncertainty.
Sweden remains unratified by both, over the government’s criticism of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Turkey’s view that the Nordic country has not done enough to combat terrorism. Turkey’s demands included the expatriation of former Turkish citizens who had sought and were granted asylum in Sweden years ago, and a strict crackdown on what Ankara considers terrorist groups.
Most recently, Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun demanded that Swedish authorities stop a protest organised by pro-Kurdish groups in Stockholm, Sweden’s capital.