Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will meet on Monday in Vilnius for new negotiations on Sweden’s membership of the Atlantic Alliance. A green light from Ankara could come in exchange for the delivery of American F-16s.
Final negotiations regarding Sweden’s accession to NATO. Turkish leaders Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Ulf Kristersson will meet on Monday 10 July in Vilnius to discuss the matter on the eve of the Alliance’s annual summit.
The meeting, organized by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, should, he hopes, make it possible to lift Ankara’s veto, which has blocked Stockholm’s entry into the Atlantic alliance since May 2022.
Jens Stoltenberg, who wants the organization’s 31 member states to offer a united front against Russia, said on Thursday it was “absolutely possible” to achieve a “positive decision” from Turkey in Lithuania.
President Erdogan, for his part, vowed on Friday to take “the best decision, whatever it is,” suggesting that all options are on the table.
Ankara calls for extradition of Kurdish activists
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is criticizing the Swedish authorities for their alleged leniency towards the Kurdish militants who have taken refuge on their soil and is calling for the extradition of dozens of them.
“How can a state that does not distance itself from terrorist organizations contribute to NATO?” asked the Turkish president, who repeatedly lambasted Sweden, again last month, for authorizing Koran burnings.
Turkey is the last NATO country with Hungary to oppose Sweden’s entry, despite the measures the Scandinavian country has taken, including a reform of its constitution and the adoption of a new anti-terror law.
Last week, Sweden also sentenced a Turk of Kurdish origin to four and a half years in prison for “extortion” and “attempted financing of terrorism” in favor of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group described as carrying out terrorist attacks by Ankara and the European Union – the first in the Scandinavian country.
Turkish green light for delivery of F-16
According to analysts, one of the keys to the file may be in Washington, where Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson was received by Joe Biden on Wednesday. For them, the Turkish green light is conditional on the delivery of American F-16 fighter jets to Ankara – which Turkey rejects.
However, the Turkish Presidency stated on Sunday evening that Presidents Erdogan and Biden had spoken by telephone during the day about Sweden’s membership of NATO and the F-16 file. The two leaders will meet one-on-one in Vilnius, Ankara said.
The White House said on Friday it expects Sweden to join NATO “in the near future”, judging it “possible” that Turkey and Hungary will change their positions at the Vilnius summit.
Some observers say President Erdogan, who has been blocked for 14 months, cannot take the risk of re-igniting tensions with Westerners.