Nato chief to travel to Ankara to push for Sweden’s Nato membership

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said he would visit Turkey 'in the near future' to convince it to drop its objection to Sweden joining the military alliance.

Nato chief to travel to Ankara to push for Sweden's Nato membership
From left, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billström, Nato Deputy-Secretary General Mircea Geoana, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and Norway's Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt at a meeting of Nato's foreign ministers in Oslo on June 1st. Photo: Javad Parsa/Pool Photo

“I’m confident of course that Sweden will be a member, and then we’re working for that to happen as early as possible,” Stoltenberg said at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Oslo.

Stoltenberg said he had already spoken to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by phone earlier this week to “highlight the importance of making progress” on Sweden’s membership.

Turkey and Hungary are the only Nato countries that have yet to ratify Sweden’s membership bid. Finland formally joined the alliance in April.

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

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said Stockholm had fulfilled “all the commitments” to join Nato and urged Turkey and Hungary to allow his country into the alliance.

“It is time for Turkey and Hungary to start the ratification of the Swedish membership to Nato,” he said.

“This was never a sprint, it’s a marathon, and we now see the end of it.”

Billström pointed to new terror legislation, which will enter into force in Sweden on Thursday, as the last step under an accord signed with Turkey last year.

Billström said he hoped to see a big step made towards membership at a meeting with representatives of Turkey in the coming weeks.

“Following that meeting, the ratification will happen,” Billström insisted.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


France urges Turkey and Hungary to ratify Sweden’s Nato membership

France's foreign minister urged Turkey and Hungary to deliver on their pledges to come through on Sweden's stalled Nato application.

France urges Turkey and Hungary to ratify Sweden's Nato membership

Hungary and Turkey in July lifted their vetoes against Sweden’s entry into the Atlantic alliance, but have been slow to ratify its membership.

“We would like to see Sweden in Nato and we would like to see Turkey and Hungary delivering on what they agreed,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters in Helsinki.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán this week said that ratifying Sweden’s Nato bid was not “urgent”, accusing the Nordic country of having challenged the country’s “democratic nature”.

For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated in July that ratification by the Turkish parliament would not take place before October.


For months, Erdogan has been putting pressure on Sweden to take action against the Quran desecrations that have strained relations between the two countries, as well as wanting Sweden to deliver more on combating Kurdish activists Turkey regards as terrorists.

Another issue complicating matters is the fact that the Turkish government wants to buy F16 jets from the US, but the American congress is holding off on approving the sale until Turkey has approved Sweden’s membership, which has led to deadlock.

Finland became Nato’s 31st member country in April, after three decades of military non-alignment and in the midst of the war in Ukraine.