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Turkey Finally Supports Sweden’s NATO Membership

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Turkey has finally backed Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance and called Ankara’s decision “historic”.

Taking to Twitter late Monday night, Stoltenberg said: “Glad to announce that after the meeting I hosted with (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan & Swedish PM (Ulf Kristersson), President Erdogan has agreed to forward Sweden’s accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly ASAP & ensure ratification.

“This is an historic step which makes all NATO allies stronger & safer.”

The announcement came following talks between the Turkish and Swedish leaders in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where the two-day NATO Summit will begin on Tuesday.

Turkey had previously spent months blocking Sweden’s application, accusing it of hosting Kurdish militants, reports the BBC.

As one of NATO’s 31 members, Turkey has a veto over any new country joining the group.

In a separate statement, the NATO chief said Turkey and Sweden had addressed “Turkey’s legitimate security concerns” and as a result Sweden had amended its constitution, changed its laws, expanded its counter-terrorism operation against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and resumed arms exports to Turkey.

Monday night’s announcement was welcomed by a host of NATO members.

Reacting to the news, US President Joe Biden said he welcomed the commitment by his Turkish counterpart to proceed with “swift ratification”.

“I stand ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey on enhancing defence and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd Nato ally,” a White House statement said.

While German Foreign Minister Annalen Baerbock tweeted: “At 32, we’re all safer together,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Sweden joining would “make us all safer”.

President of the EU Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen said: “A historic step in Vilnius. I welcome the important step that Türkiye has promised to take, to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO.”

Sweden and its eastern neighbour Finland announced their intention to join NATO in May last year in the wake of Russia launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Finland formally joined he alliance in April this year.

The main focus of the two-day NATO Summit is Ukraine’s membership which President Volodymr Zelensky has been pushing for months amid the ongoing war.

But all NATO members agree that Ukraine cannot join the bloc during the war amid fears this would lead to a direct conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia, the BBC reported.

Zelensky has admitted that he does not expect a membership until after the war, but he wants the Summit to give a “clear signal” on Ukraine’s bid.

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