Sweden’s foreign minister said his country is getting closer and closer to the ratification of NATO’s request by one of the last bastions of the military alliance.
Twenty-eight of the current 30 NATO members have accepted membership applications from Sweden and Finland since the two Scandinavian countries submitted formal applications in May. Canada was the first to approve the nominations.
But Turkey – along with Hungary – has not yet accepted the offers. The Turkish government has said that Sweden should crack down on Kurdish and other groups that Ankara deems terrorist.
New NATO membership must be approved by all existing member states.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström told CBC News Rosemary Barton lives In an interview broadcast on Sunday, all sticking points with Turkey have been resolved.
“We are now very close to the time for the Turkish parliament to start the ratification process,” Billstrom told show host Rosemary Barton.
Sweden, Finland and Turkey signed a trilateral memorandum at a NATO summit in June, paving the way for the Turkish government to sign off on both demands.
Billstrom said his country “fully” supports its side of the deal, but noted that its provisions must be in line with the Swedish constitution after the recent Turkish backtracking.
Pro-Kurdish and anti-NATO groups have complicated matters for the Swedish government by staging anti-Turkish protests that have angered the Turkish government, including an effigy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that hung briefly outside Stockholm’s city hall at the start of the month.
The Turkish government has called for an investigation into the protest, saying it amounts to racism and a hate crime. Swedish prosecutors have so far said they will not open an investigation.
On Saturday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar canceled a visit by his Swedish counterpart that was scheduled for later in the month, citing what he called “disgusting” anti-Turkish protests in Sweden.
Akar said the meeting no longer had “an issue or a point”.
NATO demands a response to Russia’s war on Ukraine
Sweden and Finland abandoned decades of non-alignment and applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“The reason we are so keen to join is because of the deteriorating security situation in our region,” said Billstrom.
And Dan Rice, an American military expert and special adviser to the commander of the Ukrainian forces, said that security in the region is exactly why NATO was originally created.
“I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful example of NATO coming together to accomplish the mission that it was formed in 1949,” Rice said. Rosemary Barton lives In a separate interview that aired on Sunday.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told CBC News power politics Thursday that the Russian invasion strengthened NATO.
“Vladimir Putin had hoped to divide NATO into a defense alliance, and instead, what we saw was NATO coming together and two new countries applying to join NATO in direct response to Russia’s attempt to invade Ukraine,” he said.