Creating new perspectives since 2009

Turkiye NATO talks with Sweden and Finland to resume on 9 March

February 27, 2023 at 4:19 pm

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu [Murat Gök – Anadolu Agency]

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Monday talks with Sweden and Finland over their NATO membership bids would resume on 9 March, although he said Sweden had still not fulfilled its obligations under a memorandum signed last year, Reuters reports.

Turkiye, in January, cancelled talks with Sweden and Finland on their applications after a Danish far-right politician burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

“My colleagues will attend the meeting that will be held on 9 March,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara, adding that the meeting would be held in Brussels.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the North Atlantic defence alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine, but Sweden, in particular, has faced unexpected objections from Turkiye.

READ: Turkiye, Sweden, Finland to hold meeting on NATO accession

Ankara accuses Stockholm of harbouring what it considers members of terrorist groups.

Sweden, Finland and Turkiye signed the memorandum on steps toward Turkish ratification at a NATO summit in Madrid in 2022.

“Unfortunately, we have not seen satisfactory steps from Sweden on the implementation of the Madrid memorandum,” Cavusoglu said. “It is not possible for us to say “yes” to Sweden’s NATO bid before we see these steps.”

The Swedish government plans to formally decide on 9 March on a long-planned proposal to make it illegal to be part of, or to endorse, a terrorist organisation. Stockholm aims for the legislation to enter into force on 1 June, though no date has yet been set for a parliamentary vote on the bill.

The United States and other NATO countries are hoping that the two Nordic countries become members of the alliance at a NATO summit due to be held in 11 July in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius.

While Ankara has signalled it could approve Finland’s application, it has given no assurances that it will give Sweden’s bid the green light by then.

A Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed that talks with Turkiye would resume on 9 March, saying they would be held at civil-servant level.

Hungary is the only other NATO member not to have ratified the Nordic countries’ applications. Its Parliament is scheduled to start debating the matter this week. Budapest said, on Saturday, a vote may take place in the second half of March.

READ: Sweden admits PKK receives significant funding