Turkey has agreed to hold another meeting with Sweden later this month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday as pressure mounts for Ankara to greenlight Stockholm’s bid to join the alliance.
Speaking to reporters following talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul, the NATO chief underscored that “Sweden has taken significant concrete steps to meet Turkey’s concerns” and announced that the sides will hold a meeting the week of June 12.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in May 2022. Turkey and Hungary dragged out their parliamentary approval processes for the two countries, ultimately allowing Finland to become a member but still withholding consent for Sweden’s bid.
“Membership will make Sweden safer, but also NATO and Turkey stronger,” Stoltenberg said. “I look forward,” he added, “to finalizing Sweden’s accession as soon as possible.”
Western officials say they hope Turkey will sign off on Sweden’s bid now that the Turkish elections are over, with pressure growing for Ankara and Budapest to both complete their parliamentary approval processes before NATO leaders gather for a summit in Vilnius next month.
On Sunday, Stoltenberg reiterated the push for accession ahead of the gathering.
There is “still time,” he said, “to make that happen by the Vilnius summit.”