Sweden and Finland could join NATO as early as 2023, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday January 8, who however recalled that the decision depended on the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments. “I expect (the accession to take place in 2023), but I will not guarantee the exact date, because it is of course a sovereign decision of the Turkish Parliament and the Hungarian Parliament, (which) have not yet ratified the agreement,” said Jens Stoltenberg in an interview with AFP.
Hungary and especially Turkey have been blocking the entry of the two Nordic countries into NATO since May. “We had negotiations, and they were quite demanding, in July last year, when Turkey, Finland and Sweden agreed on a joint memorandum in which they described how they could intensify their collaboration, to both with regard to arms exports, but also, for example, in the fight against terrorism”, recalled Jens Stoltenberg.
“Finland and Sweden have respected this agreement and are clearly committed to having long-term cooperation with Turkey on these issues. Therefore, the time has come to finalize the accession process and ratify the accession protocol,” he said.
Stockholm refuses certain Turkish demands
Earlier in the day, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson claimed that “Turkey [confirmed] as well that we [had] done what we said we would do, but they also say they want things that we we cannot and do not want to give it,” mentioned the process of his country’s accession to the Atlantic Alliance during a conference on defense and security in the presence of Jens Stoltenberg. “We are convinced that Turkey will make a decision, we just don’t know when,” said Ulf Kristersson before adding: “The decision is in Turkey’s camp”. This decision depends in particular on several factors of Turkish internal politics.
At the end of December, Ankara had noted “positive measures” taken by Stockholm, but called for “other important steps” to remove its objections to Sweden’s entry into NATO, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt at the time. Cavusoglu. These statements came a few days after the Swedish Supreme Court refused to extradite journalist Bülent Kenes, requested by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Only the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments have not ratified the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO.
On the sidelines of Sunday’s conference, the head of Finnish diplomacy reaffirmed that his country would enter the Atlantic Alliance at the same time as its neighbor. “Finland is not in such a rush to join NATO that we can’t wait for Sweden to get the green light,” Pekka Haavisto told reporters. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson made one of his very first international trips to Ankara in early November to try to lift the Turkish veto.