After months of negotiations, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to advance Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, the security pact’s leader Jens Stoltenberg said from Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, ahead of the alliance’s annual summit.
“This is a historic step which makes all NATO allies stronger & safer,” Stoltenberg tweeted, alongside a photo of him with the leaders of Sweden and Turkey.
The announcement from Stoltenberg came just hours after Erdogan said that the European Union should first grant Turkey membership to the E.U. before Ankara would greenlight Sweden’s NATO bid — a condition that the security alliance’s member states had not agreed on.
But later Monday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson allegedly promised Erdogan that Stockholm would crack down on Kurdish separatists whom Turkey considers terrorists, including members of a religious group that Ankara has accused of planning a coup attempt in 2016.
In a statement from NATO, the two countries agreed that “counterterrorism cooperation is a long-term effort, which will continue beyond Sweden’s accession to NATO.”
Hungary is the only NATO member left to approve Sweden’s bid, but the country had previously said that it would take a cue from Turkey if the accession process was to move forward.
The View From the European Union
President of the European Council Charles Michel signaled that the E.U. and Turkey could resume further talks on Ankara’s membership in the bloc.
“Explored opportunities ahead to bring the European Union and Turkey cooperation back to the forefront & re-energize our relations,” he wrote Monday.
The View From Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden who had long supported Sweden’s enrollment into the security bloc welcomed Turkey’s move on Monday, saying, “I stand ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey on enhancing defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO ally.”