Ankara says time is running out to ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids


Presidential spokesman says Sweden must meet demands before May, when polls take place in Turkey.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman says Ankara is running out of time to ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership before general elections expected in May.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Saturday that Turkey’s ratification of the countries’ bids depended on how quickly Stockholm fulfills “counter-terrorism” promises made as part of a deal with Ankara, warning that this could take months.

“Stockholm is fully committed to implementing the agreement signed in Madrid last year, but the country needs another six months to write new laws that will enable the judiciary to implement the new definitions of terrorism,” he said. Kalin at a press conference in Istanbul. .

Sweden, along with Finland, signed an agreement with Turkey last year to remove Ankara’s objections to their NATO bid, which was made last May and requires the approval of all 30 NATO member states. Both countries applied to join NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Turkey wants a clearer position

Ankara has said Sweden needs to take a clearer stance against what it sees as “terrorists”, mainly Kurdish groups and the organization it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

Last week, Stockholm said Sweden was confident Turkey will approve its application to join NATO’s military alliance, but could not meet all the conditions Ankara has set for its support.

Turkey’s parliament should ratify Ankara’s decision on the membership of the two Nordic countries, and both are being voted on at the same time.

Meanwhile, Turkish prosecutors have opened an investigation into an incident in Stockholm in which an effigy of President Erdogan was hung, further straining Sweden’s bid to win Turkey’s support.

The Swedish Prime Minister told broadcaster TV4 on Friday that the act was “extremely serious” and he regarded it as an act of sabotage against the NATO application.

Kalin said the Swedish government should send a clear signal to “terrorist organizations that Sweden is no longer a safe haven for them and they will not be able to raise money, recruit members and engage in other activities”.

“We have a time problem if they want to join NATO before the NATO summit in June,” Kalin added, referring to Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections expected in May.

“As parliament will go into recess some time before the election, you have a window of 2 to 2.5 months to do all this,” he said.

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