NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will visit Turkey on Nov. 4 for talks on Finland and Sweden’s nearly completed process to join the military alliance, a Turkish official told AFP on Friday.
Stoltenberg is due to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has warned his country will not give a nod to the two countries’ memberships until “the promises they made were kept.”
Erdoğan has accused Finland and Sweden of providing shelter to people who are allegedly linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, and FETÖ, a term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement as a terrorist organization.
The Turkish government labels the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization and accuses it of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
In June, Turkey, Sweden and Finland struck a deal which included provisions on extraditions and sharing of information.
The two Nordic nations earlier this year ditched their longstanding policies of non-alignment, asking to join NATO because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how it reshaped Europe’s security.
Stoltenberg on Wednesday announced plans to visit Turkey while praising the “close contact” Stockholm and Helsinki now had with Ankara “at all levels.”
He said: “I will go to… Istanbul to meet with President Erdogan in the near future myself.”
Erdoğan has also accepted a request from Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to visit Turkey as Stockholm struggles to overcome Ankara’s blocking of its NATO bid.
The Turkish official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the visit was likely to take place on November 8.
A spokeswoman for Kristersson could not confirm the date. “We’re working on it,” she said.
Erdoğan said during a telephone call with the Swedish premier this week that Turkey “stands ready to advance the bilateral relations with the Swedish government in all areas”.
NATO accession is a priority for Sweden’s new right-wing government.