Sweden in NATO, if Turkey joins the European Union, Erdogan insists
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday added European Union membership o the list of demands he wants fulfilled in exchange for finally backing Stockholm’s accession to NATO.
Speaking just hours before meeting Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to discuss Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance, Erdogan suggested if the EU wanted Sweden in NATO in, it should let Turkey into the EU.
Membership talks between the bloc and Ankara began in 2005, but were put on hold indefinitely in 2016, after years of democratic backsliding, human rights abuses and provocations under Erdogan.
Almost all the NATO members are EU members, he said, I now am addressing these countries, which are making Turkey wait for more than 50 years, and I will address them again [at the NATO summit] in Vilnius, Lithuania. First, open the way to Turkey’s membership of the European Union, and then we will open it for Sweden, just as we had opened it for Finland.
Erdogan claimed he had told the same thing to US president Joe Biden when they spoke by phone Sunday, though a White House readout of the call shows no mention of EU membership for Turkey.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson plans to meet with Erdogan on Monday in a last-ditch effort to bridge gaps over Stockholm’s desire to join NATO. Last month, Erdogan repeated frustrations with what he says is Sweden’s failure to keep its promise to deal with suspected Kurdish militants allegedly roaming the streets of Stockholm. Erdogan says this is hindering Swedish hopes of joining NATO.
Sweden has taken some steps in the right direction, Erdogan’s office quoted the Turkish leader as telling Biden on Sunday. But Sweden’s decision to allow pro-Kurdish groups to, hold demonstrations freely praising terrorism nullify those steps, Erdogan said.