Sweden’s NATO membership in Erdogan’s hands
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will once again be in the spotlight at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit which opens in Vilnius on Tuesday, with members of the Atlantic Alliance asking him with insists on dropping its objections to the membership of Sweden, which wants to become the organization’s 32nd member.
If Ankara gave its agreement to Finland’s membership in April, it is still blocking that of its Nordic neighbor. A meeting between the Turkish President, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is scheduled for Monday in Vilnius, to try to unblock the situation and obtain a Turkish promise just before the top opening.
Mr. Stoltenberg, who wants the thirty-one member states of the organization to offer a united front against Russia, judged on Thursday “absolutely possible” to get “a positive decision” from Turkey to Lithuania.
President Erdogan, for his part, promised on Friday to take “the best decision, whatever it is”, implying that all options are on the table. Mr. Erdogan criticizes the Swedish authorities for their alleged leniency towards the Kurdish militants who have taken refuge on their soil and is calling for the extradition of dozens of them.
However, he tempered the enthusiasm by again expressing his reservations. “How can a state that does not distance itself from terrorist organizations contribute to NATO? »asked the Turkish president, who has repeatedly criticized Sweden for allowing Quran burnings.
Turkey is the latest NATO country with Hungary to oppose Sweden’s entry despite measures taken by the Scandinavian country, including a reform of its Constitution and the adoption of a new anti-terrorism law .
One of the keys to the file lies in Washington, where the Swedish Prime Minister was received by Joe Biden on Wednesday, analysts believe: for them, the Turkish yes is conditioned on the delivery of American F-16 fighter planes to Ankara – which Turkey denies.
The Turkish presidency, however, said Sunday evening that Presidents Erdogan and Biden had spoken during the day by telephone about Sweden’s membership in NATO as well as the F-16 file. The two leaders will meet face to face in Vilnius, Ankara said.
The White House said on Friday it expects Sweden to join NATO ” in a close future “judging « possible » that Turkey and Hungary change their attitude at the Vilnius summit.