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Sweden can become NATO member if it fulfills commitments, says Turkish defense minister

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sweden is attempting to join NATO.

June 17, 2023 at 5:04 pm

The Turkish national defense minister said Saturday that if Sweden fulfills its commitments it can become a NATO member like Finland, Anadolu reports.

Meeting reporters in Brussels after the NATO defense ministers meeting, Yasar Guler expressed support for the military alliance’s “open door” policy.

In the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Sweden is looking to join NATO. However, Turkiye, a NATO member for more than 70 years, has blocked the Nordic country’s bid expressing concerns, especially over the presence of the PKK terrorist organization in Sweden.

Earlier, this year Turkiye ratified Finland’s NATO bid, but is holding back Sweden’s bid.

When asked to evaluate his participation in the meeting as defense minister for the first time, Guler said that preparations for the upcoming NATO summit were discussed during the meeting.

NATO leaders will meet in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on July 11-12 and allies are expected to step up support to Ukraine for the long haul and further strengthen deterrence and defense.

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“We once again expressed our support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty, including Crimea,” Guler said.

“We also emphasized the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a cease-fire to prevent further destruction and humanitarian tragedy, and we emphasized the importance of diplomacy and we are ready to do our part in these matters and in humanitarian aid, just as we have done so far.”

Guler stated that within the framework of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by Turkiye to solve the global food crisis, approximately 32 million tons of grain were transported from Ukrainian ports to global markets by nearly a thousand ships.

He emphasized the importance of the swift, secure, and planned continuation of grain shipments.

Guler also highlighted the second session of the meeting at NATO headquarters and discussed the efforts to strengthen the alliance’s deterrence and defense posture in the current security environment.

He said: “In this context, we recalled that after the events in Kosovo, our country, which has historical and cultural ties with the Balkans, quickly deployed an additional reserve battalion to contribute to peace, tranquility, and stability in the region. We detailed our contributions to NATO’s command and force structure, operations and missions, and efforts in land, sea, air, and space.”

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