Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has expressed his hope to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Turkey to accept Sweden’s NATO bid.
In a conversation that took place on Friday, Sunak highlighted the significant benefits of Sweden’s potential membership in NATO and acknowledged the progress made in addressing Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.
The discussion between the two leaders also touched upon the war in Ukraine and strategies to address immigration challenges.
A spokesperson from Downing Street issued a statement regarding the conversation, stating that Sunak emphasized the importance of Sweden’s NATO accession and expressed his desire for the alliance to proceed with ratifying their membership as soon as possible.
The aim was for Sweden to be formally welcomed into the bloc before the upcoming NATO summit scheduled for next Tuesday.
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has tied approval of Sweden’s NATO bid to demands for Sweden to take action against members of Kurdish opposition movements, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist group. This stance has caused frustration among Western leaders.
Finland and Sweden submitted their applications for NATO membership in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in February 2022.
While Turkey has already approved Finland’s membership, it is awaiting Sweden’s compliance with a trilateral memorandum signed in Madrid last June.
The memorandum aims to address Turkey’s security concerns regarding terrorism and groups like the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Sweden has asserted that it has met the demands outlined in the memorandum. However, tensions escalated following a protest outside a mosque in Stockholm, where an Iraqi man burned pages from the Qur’an. This incident further strained the relationship between Turkey and Sweden.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan rejected the notion of setting a deadline for the NATO summit, stating that Turkey does not approve of using time pressure as a method.
In response, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a conversation with Fidan, urging Turkey to support Sweden’s bid to join the NATO alliance.
The effort to persuade Turkey to drop its objections and accept Sweden’s NATO bid continues, with Western officials emphasizing the importance of NATO unity during this critical time. The aim is to secure Turkey’s support for Sweden’s membership in the NATO alliance.