NATO May Grow by One, but Only if Turkey Budges

Nation continues to oppose the addition of Sweden
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2023 6:35 PM CDT
NATO May Grow by One, but Only if Turkey Budges
The flags at NATO headquarters in Brussels.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Finland became the 31st member of NATO earlier this year. Neighbor Sweden's hopes of becoming the 32nd this month continue to run into a wall of opposition otherwise known as Turkey. All members of the alliance must agree to any new members, explains the Wall Street Journal, and Sweden's bid for membership is currently opposed by Hungary and Turkey. However, Hungary has suggested that if Turkey changes its mind, it will do the same, meaning it's all up to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, per the New York Times.

Erdogan's main objection is that he accuses Sweden of harboring Kurdish militants that Turkey regards as terrorists. Sweden says it has addressed the concerns in a new anti-terror law (a measure that has drawn protests in Sweden), but the law doesn't appear to have satisfied Erdogan. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the two sides are closer after talks on Thursday, and he, Erdogan, and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will meet Monday in Lithuania—on the eve of a NATO summit there, reports the AP.

"We all agreed that we have made good progress," said Stoltenberg. "We all agreed that the full membership of Sweden is in the security interests of all allies, and we all want to conclude this process as soon as possible." Both Sweden and Finland applied for membership following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the addition of Sweden would give the alliance a "united front" against Russia, per the Times. That applies both symbolically and geographically, as the Journal explains in a video. (Read more Sweden stories.)

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