Sweden and Turkey to discuss NATO bid soon, says Swedish Foreign Ministry

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom

29th May 2023 – (Stockholm) Sweden’s delayed bid to join NATO will be discussed by the foreign ministers of Sweden and Türkiye in the near future, according to a statement from the Swedish foreign ministry on Monday (29th May). While Finland joined the Western military alliance in April, Sweden’s bid has been held up by objections from Türkiye and Hungary following the countries’ joint application after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Although Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom had planned to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday at a gathering of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Türkiye’s presidential election has complicated the process.

Frictions between the two countries are longstanding, with Sweden having criticised Türkiye’s human rights record and questioned its adherence to democratic standards, while Türkiye has accused Sweden of harbouring members of militant groups it considers to be terrorists and not fulfilling its part of a deal struck in Madrid in June last year to assuage Ankara’s security concerns. Discussions between the two countries over NATO membership came to a halt during the election.

Billstrom reiterated that the government hoped Sweden could become NATO’s 32nd member state by the time of the alliance’s summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on 11th to 12th July. “I look forward to being able to shift into a higher gear and speed things up now we know what the result is,” he said.