NATO foreign ministers did not hide their disappointment with Turkey for blocking Sweden’s accession to the Alliance at the meeting today in Brussels, which was supposed to mark Sweden’s official entry into NATO, reports BTA.
“I had hoped for Sweden’s full accession to NATO by this meeting. That did not happen,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said upon arrival at the two-day meeting in Brussels.
Sweden, along with Finland, decided to apply for NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. In October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled a willingness to end his opposition, but the parliament in Ankara has yet to ratify the accession of Stockholm.
Finland formally joined the military alliance in April, but Sweden is still waiting to become an official member, although Stoltenberg stressed it has met Ankara’s demands.
Hungary has also yet to formally agree to Stockholm’s accession.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Turkey and Hungary’s delay in Sweden’s accession threatens confidence in NATO.
“We expect Turkey and Hungary to ratify this accession without further delay,” Colonna said. “The strength and confidence in our alliance depends on it. We must not waste another day,” she stressed.
German Foreign Minister Analena Berbock said ratification was “more than overdue” and stressed the importance of unity within the Western defense alliance.
“We are so disappointed that Sweden is not a member as of today,” Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said, adding that Finland hopes “that will happen very, very soon.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said he will talk privately today in Brussels with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.
“It is more than clear that we would welcome the participation of Sweden in the meeting of foreign ministers as a full member of NATO,” Billström said.
He expressed optimism that his country would join the alliance, saying he believed the Turkish parliament would soon finish “the work of ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.”
Billström, however, refrained from speculating when Sweden would actually join the alliance.
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