Erdogan’s Surprising Shift: Support for Sweden’s NATO Accession Hinges on EU Negotiations Restart

2023-07-10 14:05:02
Erdogan changes his words and will support Sweden’s accession to NATO in exchange for restarting EU accession negotiations

Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced today he would back Sweden’s accession to NATO once the European Union (EU) agreed to resume long-stalled accession talks with Ankara Organization (NATO).

On the eve of a NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Western leaders reportedly wanted to show solidarity in the face of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Erdogan will meet Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Vilnius this evening.

Erdogan said leaders who blocked Turkey’s EU membership now wanted him to back Sweden’s NATO membership.

Erdogan said in an interview with TV media: “Almost all NATO members are members of the European Union. I am now addressing these countries. They have kept Turkey waiting for more than 50 years. I will address them again in Vilnius.”

“First the door should be opened for Turkey to join the EU, then we will open the door (to join NATO) for Sweden, just as we opened the door for Finland,” he said.

Erdogan added: “This is what I told US President Joe Biden on the phone yesterday.”

Turkey first applied to join the European Economic Community (the predecessor of the European Union) in 1987; it became a candidate country of the European Union in 1999; in 2005, it officially launched the accession negotiations. Accession talks have since stalled in 2016 amid allegations of human rights abuses in Ankara.

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