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Turkey Supports Sweden’s Bid For NATO Membership At Vilnius Summit 2023

Following closed-door negotiations between NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg and the leaders of the two countries ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania, Turkey has agreed to allow Sweden to join...

Following closed-door negotiations between NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg and the leaders of the two countries ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania, Turkey has agreed to allow Sweden to join NATO. “Completing Sweden’s NATO Accession Is An Historic Step That Benefits The Security Of All NATO Allies At This Critical Time,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Vilnius.

Why In The News?

  • Turkey Has Agreed To Allow Sweden To Join NATO After Closed Door Negotiations Between NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg And The Leaders Of The Two Countries Ahead Of A NATO Summit In Lithuania.
  • “Completing Sweden’s Accession To NATO Is An Historic Step That Benefits The Security Of All NATO Allies At This Critical Time,” Stoltenberg Said At A Press Conference In Vilnius.

The Return Gift Turkey Gets From the USA

  • Hours After Ankara’s Decision Was Revealed, The Administration Of US President Joe Biden Announced It Will Move Forward With The Transfer Of F-16 Fighter Jets To Turkey In Consultation With The US Congress, In What Seemed To Be A Trade-off For Ankara’s Green Light To Stockholm’s NATO Membership.
  • The Pentagon Said That US Secretary Of Defense Lloyd Austin Discussed His Country’s Role In Turkey’s Military Modernisation With Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Guler On The Phone – Another Indication That Negotiations Over Sweden’s Entry Were Helped Along By A US-Turkey Defence Deal.
  • Ankara Sought To Purchase US F-16s And Modernize The Ones It Already Owns As Compensation For Its 2019 Removal From A US-Led International Programme Developing And Producing New F-35 Fighter Jets.
  • Washington Sacked Turkey From The Popular Scheme After Its Purchase Of The S-400 Defence System From Russia Despite Warnings From The US.
  • The Development Led To A Bilateral Crisis Between The Two Allies And Washington’s Imposition Of Sanctions On Turkey In December 2020 In The Area Of Defence Under The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) – The First Time Such Sanctions Targeted A NATO Member.
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The Return Gift Turkey Gets From Sweden

  • Sweden Agreed To Work Closely With Ankara To Address The Latter’s Security Concerns Through Annual Trilateral Talks That Include NATO. Echoing A Similar, Unimplemented Deal Negotiated In Madrid In 2022, Stockholm Affirmed That Its “Counterterrorism” Efforts Would Continue After Its Entry Into The Alliance.
  • Sweden Reiterated That It Will Not Provide Support To Kurdish Fighter Groups, And The Organisation Turkey Describes As The “Fethullah Terror Organisation”, Which Is Accused Of A Failed 2016 Coup That Took Hundreds Of Lives.

Erdogan Links EU And NATO Issues

  • Erdogan Achieved What He Wanted Regarding Turkey European Union Ties By Linking, Practically In Writing, Ankara’s Issues With The Bloc To Sweden’s NATO Bid.
  • The Joint Statement Referred To Turkey’s Frozen EU Accession Process, With Sweden Expressing Support For Efforts To Revive The Membership Talks. Ankara Has Been A Membership Candidate Since 2005, And Negotiations Have Not Progressed Since 2016.
  • The Joint Statement Also Saw Stockholm Promise To “Actively Support Efforts” In Two Areas Ankara Wanted Improved: Modernisation Of The EU-Turkey Customs Union And Visa Liberalization.
  • Ankara Has Condemned Repeatedly The Increase In Rejected Schengen Visa Applications By Turkish Citizens, Demanding Visa-free Travel For Turks In Europe.
  • EU Officials Say Ankara Needs To Work On The Bloc’s Criteria To Get The Concession And Claim That There Is No Ill-treatment Of Applications By Turkish Citizens.
  • Turkey Has Also Sought For Years Changes In The Customs Union It Has Had With The EU Since 1996. The EU Has Not Agreed To Start Talks Over The Issue Despite Calls From Ankara And Commerce Communities In Both Countries.
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Sweden’s Farewell To Neutrality

  • For A Country That Hasn’t Fought A War In Two Centuries, The Decision To Join NATO Was Huge. Sweden Declined To Take Sides During Both World Wars And Throughout The Cold War, Embracing Neutrality As Core To Its Security Policy And Even Its National Identity.
  • Though It Tweaked Its Status To “Nonaligned” After Joining The European Union In 1995 And Gradually Increased Cooperation With NATO, Stockholm Until Last Year Ruled Out Applying For Membership, With Public Opinion Firmly Against It.
  • As Late As November 2021 – Three Months Before Russia’s Full-scale Invasion Of Ukraine – Then Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist Promised That Sweden Would Never Join NATO While His Center-left Social Democrats Were In Office. Then The War Started.
  • As Russian Tanks Rumbled Across The Ukrainian Border And Missiles Struck Kyiv And Other Cities, Public Opinion Shifted In Both Finland And Sweden. Even Hultqvist And The Social Democrats Made A U-turn, And In May Last Year Sweden And Finland Jointly Applied For NATO Membership.

What About Hungary?

  • Unlike Turkiye, Hungary Has Not Given A Reason For Why It Hasn’t Yet Ratified Sweden’s NATO Membership. Hungary Pursued Close Economic And Diplomatic Ties With Russia Before The War.
  • Since It Started, Prime Minister Viktor Orban Has Refused To Back Ukraine With Weapons And Argued Against European Union Sanctions On Moscow. During A Visit To Vienna Last Week, Orban Denied That Hungary Was Delaying Sweden’s Membership Bid.
  • Many Analysts Believe That Orban Is Waiting For Erdogan’s Next Move And That Hungary Will Approve Sweden’s Accession If Turkiye Looks Likely To Do The Same. That’s What Happened With Finland’s Accession.

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