ISTANBUL: Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday called on Ankara to drop its opposition to Sweden’s bid to join the US-led defence alliance, hoping Stockholm’s accession would be finalised “as soon as possible”.
Pressure is building on Erdogan to greenlight Sweden’s Nato membership ahead of a summit planned for July in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
“Membership will make Sweden safer but also make Nato and Turkiye stronger,” Stoltenberg told journalists after meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and newly appointed foreign minister Hakan Fidan, who was head of the intelligence agency, in Istanbul. “I look forward to finalising Sweden’s accession as soon as possible,” he said.
On Saturday Stoltenberg attended the inauguration of Erdogan, who was re-elected to serve another five years, in a lavish ceremony joined by dozens of world leaders in the capital Ankara. Nato member Turkiye has dragged its feet over admitting Sweden to the military alliance. It and Hungary are the only two Nato countries yet to ratify the membership bid.
Sweden and Finland dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join the alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland formally joined Nato in April.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2023