Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom urged the Turkish parliament on Wednesday to initiate the ratification process for Sweden’s application to join NATO, stating that Sweden has met its obligations under an agreement with Turkey, Reuters reported.
This comes in the wake of Turkey blocking Sweden’s NATO membership due to perceived security threats.
Last year Sweden and Finland reversed long-standing policies of military neutrality and applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Finland joined the alliance in April, Sweden’s entry has been delayed by Turkey’s reservations.
Turkey had earlier stipulated that Sweden needed to curb anti-Turkish protests within its capital, Stockholm, as a prerequisite for NATO membership approval.
“We believe we have fulfilled the required expectations, and now it’s time for Turkey to initiate the ratification process in their parliament,” Billstrom told Reuters during a parliamentary meeting.
He remained optimistic about Sweden’s chances of joining NATO by its mid-July summit in Vilnius, admitting that there was no “Plan B.”
Turkey’s objections stem from its belief that Sweden provides refuge to members of groups that Turkey considers to be terrorist organizations. In response, Sweden enacted a new law aimed at tightening restrictions on financing or supporting terrorist groups. This move, according to the Swedish government, fulfills their obligations under the agreement signed with Turkey in Madrid.
Despite these measures, Ankara remains skeptical. Over the past few months, protests in Stockholm have involved the display of an effigy of Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan hanging from a lamp-post, as well as flags supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group regarded as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
While Billstrom acknowledged that the right to demonstrate is a constitutional right, he also noted that “just because something is legal, doesn’t always make it appropriate.”
Hungary also has yet to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership.