Sweden’s new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, said Thursday he was ready to head to Ankara to urge Turkey to back bids by Sweden and Finland to join the NATO alliance, Agence France-Presse reported.
“I have already sent a signal to the Turkish government that we are prepared to go to Ankara immediately,” Kristersson said as he arrived for an EU leaders’ summit three days after taking office.
“I will do that as soon as it is suitable for them as well of course, so I’m very prepared for that.”
Kristersson said he aimed to show Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Sweden and Finland “actually do what we promised” to fulfil a deal with Ankara to clear their path into NATO.
Sweden and Finland earlier this year tore up their long-standing policies of non-alignment in the face of Russia’s war on Ukraine and launched their bids to join the US-led military alliance.
The move has received strong backing from the vast majority of the alliance’s members, but Erdoğan has stalled the process over accusations the Nordic neighbors are havens for outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and followers of the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016. The movement denies any involvement in the coup.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Twenty-eight of NATO’s 30 allies have so far ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden — leaving only Turkey and Hungary to sign off before they officially join the group.