Sweden must take concrete steps to join NATO: Turkey FM
Both ministers convened on the restoring of dialogue following a meeting of the Standing Joint Mechanism on Sweden's NATO membership.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Wednesday told Swedish counterpart, Tobias Billstrom, that Sweden must take concrete steps in order to join the NATO alliance.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "Today (on June 7), Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan had a phone conversation with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom. During the talk, he congratulated his colleague Minister Fidan on his new appointment. Minister Fidan also stressed that concrete steps must be taken for Sweden to join NATO."
The statement added that both ministers convened on the restoring of dialogue following a meeting of the Standing Joint Mechanism on Sweden's NATO membership.
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.
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.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on January 23 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.
As diplomatic tensions between Sweden and Turkey reached an all-time high, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto stated on January 24 that Finland could consider joining NATO without Sweden.
However, even though Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin reaffirmed earlier in February 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.
On May 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Oslo on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting that it is "absolutely possible" to decide on Sweden's NATO membership before the alliance's summit scheduled to take place on 11-12 July 2023.
Although there are no guarantees, "it's absolutely possible to reach a solution and enable the decision on full membership for Sweden by then," he said.
"We don't have any certainty. Of course, we are speaking about sovereign decisions by national parliaments," he said, adding that there was "a window now especially after the Turkish elections and with a Turkish parliament being constituted."