Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson shake hands in front of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before their meeting on the eve of the NATO summit in Vilnius, July 10, 2023.

Yves Herman | Afp | Getty Images

BRUSSELS – Sweden expects Turkey to agree to its NATO membership “within a few weeks,” the country’s foreign minister told CNBC, after a months-long impasse over Stockholm’s future within the alliance.

Sweden submitted a formal application to join NATO together with Finland in May 2022. The latter became an official member in April 2023, but Sweden was kept waiting by member states Hungary and Turkey.

Turkey expressed concerns about Sweden’s alleged harboring of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants. Hungary, on the other hand, has raised concerns about previous statements in Sweden criticizing Hungary’s lack of democratic values.

During a NATO summit in July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to admit Sweden into the alliance. However, the Turkish parliament still has to approve this.

“I had a bilateral conversation with my colleague, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, in which he told me that he expected ratification within a few weeks,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said in Brussels on Wednesday.

“Of course we don’t take anything for granted on Sweden’s part, but we look forward to this being concluded and in this conversation no new conditions were put forward, there were no new demands from the Turkish government,” Minister Billström told reporters.

When asked by CNBC what kind of guarantees he had received from Hungary, Billström also said he had spoken to his counterpart in Brussels and that Budapest “will not be the last to ratify Stockholm’s accession.”

“I asked my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Hungary, Mr. Péter Szijjártó, yesterday whether you will continue to stick to your promise not to be the last to ratify Sweden? And he said, ‘Yes, we won’t be the last to ratify Sweden.’ “That means it is in the hands of Ankara rather than perhaps in the hands of Budapest,” the Swedish minister said.

He added: “We expect white smoke from Budapest the moment there is white smoke from Ankara.”

Source : www.cnbc.com

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