Nato chief ‘confident’ Sweden will become full member of military alliance

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg insisted he is 'completely confident' that Sweden will join the military alliance. Turkey and Hungary are still blocking its membership.

Nato chief 'confident' Sweden will become full member of military alliance
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB

“I am completely confident that Sweden will become a full member of Nato,” Stoltenberg said in Oslo during an informal meeting of Nato’s foreign ministers on Wednesday and Thursday, days after the re-election of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey and Hungary are the only countries of Nato’s 31 member states that have yet to ratify Sweden’s membership.

Finland formally became the Alliance’s 31st member on April 4th.

The two Nordic countries both dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied for membership together in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Erdogan, who was re-elected Sunday for another five-year-term, has accused Sweden of being a haven for “terrorists”, especially members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We will be in close contact with Ankara and President Erdogan to help this process move forward as quickly as possible”, Stoltenberg told reporters after Tuesday’s discussion.

“They have already come an extremely long way since all the member countries, including Turkey, invited them to become full members at the summit last year”, he added, referring to a Madrid summit in June.

Since the summit, Erdogan has also accused Sweden of not honouring the terms of a separate deal under which Turkey had agreed to approve the bids.

“I have been of the opinion since last autumn that Sweden should already have been admitted by ratification, and I am still of that opinion, but when 31 countries have to agree, it probably takes a little longer than I would like, so we are working on it”, Stoltenberg said.

On Tuesday, Sweden once again drew Turkish ire, as Turkey deplored an “unacceptable” protest by Swedish activists aimed at Ankara.

The pro-Kurdish Rojava Committee of Sweden posted an anti-Erdogan video on social networks on Monday showing a PKK flag being projected onto the Swedish parliament – the latest of several similar stunts by the group which has repeatedly provoked Ankara.

Although Turkey’s foreign minister is not scheduled to be present in Oslo this week, the question of Sweden’s candidacy will probably be raised again at an upcoming summit in Vilnius on July 11th and 12th.

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What’s on the agenda for German chancellor’s visit to Sweden?

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is in Sweden to discuss security and business competitiveness with his Nordic colleagues on a two-day visit.

What's on the agenda for German chancellor's visit to Sweden?

Scholz was to visit the Stockholm headquarters of telecommunications giant Ericsson on Monday, accompanied by the prime ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

They were to “discuss security policy issues such as hybrid threats, civil preparedness and new technologies,” the Swedish government said in a statement.

A press conference was to follow just before 6pm.

“At a dinner that evening, discussions will centre on continued support to Ukraine,” the government said, as Russian troops launched a major ground operation against Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region amid Kyiv’s struggles with Western aid delays.

The Nordic countries and Germany have been among Ukraine’s biggest donors since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

Berlin is the world’s second biggest donor to Ukraine, giving 14.5 billion euros so far, according to the Kiel Institute.

“Security policy and the upcoming Nato summit will top the agenda,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson wrote in a piece published in financial daily Dagens Industri on Monday.

“Financial competitiveness issues” will also be discussed, he said, noting that “the Nordic region wants to play a key role in efforts to strengthen the European economy”.

On Tuesday, Kristersson and Scholz were scheduled to hold bilateral talks and visit the Norrsken Foundation, which supports young growth companies active in the green and digital transition.

Afterwards the two leaders were to sign a “strategic innovation partnership” between Germany and Sweden.

The visit was to be their first bilateral meeting since Sweden joined Nato in March 2024.

The next Nato summit will take place July 9th-11th in Washington.

“Sweden has, and must have, a clear international voice in the world,” Kristersson wrote in Dagens Industri.

The Scandinavian country has enjoyed decades of strong cooperation with Nordic and Baltic countries, and with intensified collaboration “with two other Baltic Sea countries, Poland and Germany, our region will be safer and stronger”, he said.