Istanbul, Turkey (AP) – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg There was no breakthrough on Sunday in talks over Sweden’s membership In the military organization with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoganwith officials from the two countries meeting in just over a week to try to bridge their differences.
NATO wants to bring Sweden into the fold by the time US President Joe Biden and other allied leaders meet in Lithuania on July 11-12.But Türkiye and Hungary have not yet ratified this step. All 31 member states must ratify the Candidate Accession Protocol to join the transatlantic alliance.
The Turkish government accuses Sweden of being too lenient on terrorist organizations and security threats, including Kurdish militant groups and people linked to the 2016 coup attempt. Hungary has also delayed its approval, but the reasons for this have not been publicly explained.
“President Erdogan and I agreed today that the Permanent Joint Mechanism should meet again in the week of June 12. Membership will make Sweden safer, but also NATO and Turkey stronger,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Istanbul.
The Permanent Joint Mechanism was created to address Turkey’s concerns about Sweden and Finland, the latter of which has become the 31st member of NATO. in April.
“Sweden has fulfilled its obligations” regarding membership, Stoltenberg said. He noted that the country had amended its constitution, strengthened its anti-terror laws, and lifted the arms embargo imposed on Turkey since it applied to join NATO just over a year ago.
Fearing they might be targeted by Moscow after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland abandoned their traditional positions of military non-alignment to seek protection under NATO’s security umbrella.
When Stoltenberg held talks in Istanbul, hundreds of people, including dozens of pro-Kurdish protesters, gathered in Stockholm to demonstrate against Sweden’s planned NATO membership. Up to 500 people took part in the action entitled “No to NATO – No to Erdogan’s laws in Sweden”.
They rallied under the banner of the “Coalition Against NATO,” an umbrella group of Kurdish organizations, left-wing groups, anarchists, youth, climate activists, people opposed to Sweden’s new anti-terror laws, which took effect on June 1, as well as those advocating a free media.
In January, a demonstration in Stockholm involved the burning of a copy of the Quran Sweden’s NATO membership talks have come to a standstill, after Erdogan suspended the meetings. The incident led to anti-Swedish demonstrations throughout the Muslim world.
“We know that Erdoğan is watching this and … he’s been very angry about these things in the past, so we’ll most likely have the same response from him and delay Sweden’s entry into NATO even further,” Thomas Peterson, a spokesman for the anti-NATO coalition, said.
Stoltenberg seems to suggest that the protests may have been raised during his talks.
“I understand that it is difficult to see anti-Turkey and anti-NATO demonstrations in Sweden,” Stoltenberg said. “But let me be clear, freedom of assembly and expression are core values in our democratic societies. These rights must be protected and upheld.”
He also said that it was important to “remember why these demonstrations took place. The organizers want to prevent Sweden from joining NATO. They want to prevent Sweden’s anti-terrorism cooperation with Turkey, and they want to make NATO weaker. We must not allow them to succeed.”
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