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Sweden hopes for quick NATO accession after Turkish election

March 15, 2023

Finland and Sweden require Turkey's approval in order to join the NATO military alliance. Turkey, which has raised objections over Sweden's membership bid, is set to hold elections on May 14.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson walk along red carpet in Berlin in front of soldiers standing attention
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said during a visit to Berlin that he hoped for Sweden's rapid accession to NATO after Turkish electionsImage: ANNEGRET HILSE/REUTERS

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Wednesday that he was hoping for "rapid ratification" of NATO membership for his country following elections in Turkey.

Turkey is set to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14.

Kristersson made the comments in Berlin following a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Swedish accession requires Turkish support

In order to be ratified, Sweden's accession to NATO needs unanimous support from all member states of the alliance, including Turkey. Ankara has in the past objected to Stockholm's membership, demanding it extradite members of Kurdish groups and others it deems to be "terrorists."

Referring to the possibility that Finland's membership could be ratified before Sweden's, Kristersson said: "we're not at all hiding the fact that we would've preferred a simultaneous ratification." The prime minister added that his government would respect Turkey's decision.

The chancellor said that Germany had supported quick ratification of Sweden's bid to join NATOImage: ANNEGRET HILSE/REUTERS

Scholz said that Berlin had offered "all kinds of support" for faster progress in Sweden's bid to join NATO. He added that compared to the accession process of other NATO member states, Finland and Sweden's application was already being considered relatively quickly.

Finland's Niinisto to visit Turkey

Meanwhile, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is set to visit Turkey on Thursday.

He will first visit parts of Turkey that were affected by a deadly earthquake early in February. Finland's president will then meet with his Turkish counterpart on Friday.

Niinisto's office said that talks would focus on bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bid.

Ankara had earlier suggested that it could consider Finland's request to join NATO separately from Sweden's. Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Wednesday that his government would "keep promises made."

"We will meet with President [Sauli Niinisto] on Friday … and then do what is necessary," Erdogan said.

sdi/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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