Turkey Reverses Course, Will Let Sweden Join NATO

Turkish President Erdogan now wants his nation to be allowed to join the EU
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 10, 2023 3:04 PM CDT
Turkey Reverses Course, Will Let Sweden Join NATO
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, shakes hands with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, right, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on prior to a meeting ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, July 10, 2023.   (Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has relented and agreed to allow Sweden join NATO. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made the announcement after talks with Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on the eve of a NATO summit in Lithuania, per the AP. Sweden's NATO accession has been held up by objections from Turkey since last year.

Earlier, Erdogan introduced a new condition for approving Sweden's membership—calling on European countries to "open the way" for Turkey to join the European Union. It was the first time that Erdogan linked his country's ambition to join the EU with Sweden's efforts to become a NATO member, and it was not immediately clear if he had received assurances that would happen. "Turkey has been waiting at the door of the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all of the NATO member countries are now members of the European Union," Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul. "I am making this call to these countries that have kept Turkey waiting at the gates of the European Union for more than 50 years."

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"Come and open the way for Turkey's membership in the European Union," he added. "When you pave the way for Turkey, we'll pave the way for Sweden as we did for Finland." Earlier, Erdogan's office said he told President Biden during a telephone call Sunday that Turkey wanted a "clear and strong" message of support for Turkey's EU ambitions from the NATO leaders. The White House readout of the Biden-Erdogan call did not mention the issue of Turkish EU membership. (Read more NATO stories.)

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