In this handout photograph taken and released by the Press Office of the Republic of Turkey on June 4, 2023, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) shakes hands with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Dolmabahce Office in Istanbul, Turkey. (PHOTO / AFP)
ISTANBUL – The NATO chief urged Türkiye to approve Sweden's membership bid after having a closed-door meeting with the Turkish president on Sunday.
Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sweden has taken concrete steps to address Türkiye's security concerns, including amending the Swedish constitution, ending arms exports limits, and strengthening counter-terrorism legislation.
Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sweden has taken concrete steps to address Türkiye's security concerns, including amending the Swedish constitution, ending arms exports limits, and strengthening counter-terrorism legislation
"And then we have also seen that Sweden and Türkiye are working much more closely when it comes to exchanging intelligence to support the efforts of counter-terrorism," he added.
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The Swedish government not preventing anti-Turkish and anti-Islam protests was another point of contention between the two countries. "The protesters want to block Sweden's counter-terrorism cooperation with Türkiye. And they want to make NATO weaker. We should not allow them to succeed," Stoltenberg noted.
The Turkish side made no statement after the meeting. While no definite answer came out of the meeting, Stoltenberg said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had agreed to meet again to discuss Swedish membership in the week starting on June 12th.
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"Membership would make Sweden safer, but also NATO and Türkiye stronger," he added.
Both Sweden and Finland decided to join NATO last year. However, NATO member Türkiye held up both countries' memberships over concerns that they were not doing enough to stop the activities of Kurdish terror organizations.
READ MORE: Finland to join NATO, Sweden still waiting
Türkiye eventually lifted its objection to Finland earlier this year after it took "concrete steps" against such organizations, and the country went on to become the organization's 31st member in April. But Ankara maintains its veto of Sweden.