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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
    HomeNewsHeadlinesTurkey, Sweden locked in talks to break impasse over NATO membership

    Turkey, Sweden locked in talks to break impasse over NATO membership


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    VILNIUS (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is actively working to resolve the impasse concerning Sweden’s bid for NATO membership. He convened Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson ahead of the summit in Lithuania to address the issue.

    Last year, both Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership, abandoning their policies of military non-alignment in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Finland’s membership was approved in April, Sweden’s bid still requires clearance from Turkey and Hungary. Stockholm is now focused on attaining approval at the summit in Vilnius.

    “It is still possible to have a positive decision on Sweden in Vilnius,” Stoltenberg stated during a news conference before hosting the meeting between Erdogan and Kristersson on the eve of the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital.

    Erdogan has consistently referenced a deal made during last summer’s NATO summit in Madrid as a condition for Sweden’s accession. He emphasized that Ankara will not compromise on this matter.

    Both Erdogan and Kristersson appeared relaxed before the meeting, with the Swedish Prime Minister joking about parking his aircraft next to Erdogan’s larger Turkish plane at Vilnius airport.

    However, the initial discussions between the three leaders lasted for over two hours before taking a break. Diplomats anticipate further negotiations will continue into the evening.

    Turkey claims that Sweden has not taken sufficient action against individuals it considers terrorists, primarily members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU, and the United States.

    Erdogan further raised the stakes by suggesting that the European Union should facilitate Ankara’s accession to the bloc before Turkey’s parliament approves Sweden’s NATO membership.

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    The United States and its allies have exerted pressure on Turkey for months. Some NATO partners suspect that Turkey has been leveraging Sweden’s membership bid to influence Washington on the procurement of warplanes. In October 2021, Turkey requested to buy $20 billion worth of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-16 fighters and almost 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.

    US President Joe Biden is scheduled to hold face-to-face talks with Erdogan during the summit.

    (Additional reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Anna Ringstrom, Johan Ahlander in Stockholm and Ezgi Erkoyun in Istanbul; written by John Irish, edited by William Maclean)

    Credit: The Star : News Feed

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