Trkiye has yet to ratify Stockholm's entry into the bloc
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenbeg on Sunday called on Türkiye to drop its concerns over Sweden's bid to join the military alliance, telling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Stockholm has met all of Ankara's security demands.
"Sweden has taken significant concrete steps to meet Turkey's concerns," Stoltenberg told reporters on Sunday following a meeting with newly re-elected president Erdogan and senior Turkish government officials in Istanbul. "Sweden has fulfilled its obligations."
NATO hopes to admit Sweden to the alliance in advance of its summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11 and 12. However, Türkiye and Hungary have yet to ratify Sweden's accession. All 31 NATO members must endorse a candidate before it can become a member.
Last summer, Sweden and Finland renounced their long-standing stances of neutrality to apply to join the US-led bloc. This prompted the Turkish president to demand that the applicants lift arms embargoes on Ankara, extradite alleged Kurdish terrorists, and inhibit Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) activity within its borders. Türkiye has on several occasions said it does not oppose NATO expansion.
In June 2022, Türkiye, along with Sweden and Finland, signed a joint memorandum which pledged to address Anakara's concerns about the Nordic nations' accession to the alliance. Türkiye ratified Finland's NATO membership in March.
However, recent Islamophic demonstrations in Sweden, including one which featured the burning of a Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, have led to doubts in Ankara as to whether Sweden is committed to addressing Turkish demands.
"Türkiye has legitimate security concerns," Stoltenberg added at a news conference following the summit on Sunday. "No other NATO ally has faced more terrorist attacks, but Sweden has taken significant concrete steps to meet Türkiye's concerns."
In his comments, Stolterberg noted that Stockholm recently made amendments to its constitution, addressing the activity of terrorist groups within its borders. It has also lifted its arms embargo on Türkiye.
"Membership will make Sweden, as well as NATO and Türkiye, stronger," the bloc's leader said. "I'm looking forward to the completion of Sweden's membership process."