Sweden deepens integration with NATO military as accession talks halt
The Swedish Defense Minister says his country is witnessing further integration into the coalition's "military hemisphere".
Sweden aims to further integrate its military relations with NATO as the country's accession into the coalition is facing obstacles after talks with Turkey have been put to a halt.
"I think there are about 15 acts to be signed and we are seeing an increasingly deep integration of Sweden into NATO in the military sphere," Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson told broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) on Saturday.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson announced on Saturday that his country was ready to resume talks with Ankara regarding Stockholms's NATO application, once Turkey is ready for such talks.
Read more: War in Ukraine: A conflict that will decide the global system's fate
"The first thing we need to do is calm down the situation. It is hard to have good talks when things are literally burning around you," Kristersson said during a visit to Estonia's capital, Tallinn.
"As soon as they are prepared (for talks), we are obviously prepared," Kristersson added.
Following the outbreak of the Ukraine war, Sweden and Finland both submitted applications to join NATO last year. However, their bids for accession require the unanimous approval of all 30 NATO member states to be considered. Hungary and Turkey are the only countries that have not yet approved the applications.
Rallies attacking the Turkish leadership in Stockholm and the burning of the holy Quran have poured oil onto the fire and further deepened the rift and raised tensions between Turkey and Sweden.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned following the events that the relations with the nordic country have reached a new low.
Ankara condemned the incident and announced that it will not support Sweden in its NATO bid, while its [Turkey's] position on Finland might be different if it applies to the coalition alone.
NATO rapid accession; not so rappid
Earlier today, Finnish President Sauli Niinnisto announced that Finland and Sweden plan to take part in the NATO summit in Vilnius scheduled for July 11-12; a summit designated for full members of the alliance.
Niinisto expressed concern that if Finland and Sweden don’t join the alliance by the summer, then the process of receiving membership will become uncertain and could raise debate, even after being promised rapid accession to the alliance.
“If it doesn’t happen by the Vilnius meeting, why should it happen afterwards?” he said.
Read more: US pressuring Turkey to further stifle Russia: WSJ
The countries’ wish to join the alliance was expressed in 2022 a few months after the war in Ukraine began last February. Both countries decided to let go of neutrality and apply for NATO membership in May 2022.
This promised “rapid accession” was unexpectedly stalled due to Ankara’s position, amid strained relations between Ankara and Sweden due to several incidents that cast doubt on Sweden's chances of gaining Turkey's approval.
Finland may depart with Sweden over NATO application
On January 23, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara may decide to make a "different" decision on Finland's bid for NATO membership - as opposed to that of Sweden's - that would inevitably "shock" Sweden.
On January 24, and as diplomatic tensions between Sweden and Turkey reached an all-time high, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto stated that Finland may consider joining NATO without Sweden.
Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on January 30 that his country still hopes to join NATO together with Sweden after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's earlier remarks that Ankara could accept Finland without its Nordic neighbor.
However, despite the fact that Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin reaffirmed earlier this month that Finland intends to join NATO alongside Sweden, high-level sources revealed on February 8 that all Finnish parties, bar one, are prepared for their country to move forward alone.