High-level Meeting to Resolve Turkish Blockade
NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg aims to mediate the membership dispute between Turkey and Sweden ahead of the NATO summit, with a meeting between the heads of government. A positive outcome is “absolutely possible.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is hopeful that Turkey will lift its blockade on Sweden’s NATO membership next week. Stoltenberg announced that he will organize a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, just before the NATO summit, following mediation talks in Brussels.
Stoltenberg stated that he wants to “bridge the gap” between the two countries. He reported “good progress” after the foreign ministers of Sweden and Turkey, as well as intelligence representatives from both countries, met at NATO headquarters earlier. Optimism from Stoltenberg
He believes that a positive decision is “absolutely possible.” Any further delays would only be welcomed by the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added.
According to Stoltenberg, the talks with Kristersson and Erdogan will already be organized in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, where the NATO summit begins on Tuesday. If an agreement is reached, the summit would not be burdened by disputes on this issue.
Kristersson had met with US President Joe Biden in Washington on Wednesday, who reaffirmed his support. PKK Classified as a Terrorist Organization for the First Time
During the press conference, Stoltenberg also referred to a decision that had been made a few hours earlier in Stockholm. A Kurdish individual originally from Turkey was sentenced to four and a half years in prison in the Swedish capital for attempted aggravated extortion, serious weapons offenses, and attempted terrorism financing.
The court found him guilty of attempting to force a Kurdish businessperson in Stockholm, at gunpoint, to hand over money for the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to Chief Justice Mans Wigen, this was the first time a Swedish court classified the PKK as a terrorist organization. He emphasized that Sweden’s NATO application had no influence on the court’s decision. Turkey and Hungary Block the Membership
In May 2022, in light of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership. Finland has been a member since early April.
Apart from Hungary, Turkey is the only NATO member country out of the 31 that has not yet ratified Sweden’s accession protocol. Turkey accuses Sweden of being a “haven for terrorists,” referring primarily to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Additionally, Erdogan recently strongly criticized the burning of a Quran in Stockholm.