Ratification is being delayed by Turkey and fellow NATO member Hungary due to several separate disputes with both Stockholm and Brussels.
Turkey warned Tuesday it will not be pressured into backing Sweden’s bid to join NATO and said it was still considering whether the Nordic country’s entry would benefit or hurt the alliance.
The remarks were made by Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan just two days before he was due to meet with his Swedish counterpart in Brussels to tackle Stockholm’s attempt to become the 32nd member of the US-led military alliance.
NATO hopes to welcome Sweden by the time alliance leaders hold a summit in Lithuania on July 11-12.
However, ratification is being delayed by Turkey and fellow NATO member Hungary due to several separate disagreements with both Stockholm and Brussels.
“We never approve of the use of time pressure as a method,” Fidan told a televised press conference.
It is worth noting that unanimous approval from current members is required for new countries to join the bloc.
Ankara has been recently frustrated by decisions by the Stockholm police to grant permits for citizens to burn a copy of the Holy Quran book outside the Turkish embassy and mosques.
Talks on Sweden’s accession to NATO have been stalling since the burning of the Quran took place near Turkey’s embassy in Sweden earlier this year.
On June 7, Fidan said Sweden must take concrete steps to join the NATO alliance.
“Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan had a phone conversation with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom. During the talk, he congratulated his colleague Minister Fidan on his new appointment. Minister Fidan also stressed that concrete steps must be taken for Sweden to join NATO,” a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry read on June 7.
The statement added that both ministers convened on the restoring of dialogue following a meeting of the Standing Joint Mechanism on Sweden’s NATO membership.
At the same time, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Turkey, Sweden, Finland, and NATO will be holding a meeting in Brussels to discuss Sweden’s ascension to NATO.
“We agreed to convene a new meeting of Finland, Sweden, Turkey, and NATO. This meeting will take place in Brussels next week. I will chair the meeting and it will be a high-level meeting with the foreign ministers, the chiefs of intelligence, and national security advisers. And the purpose of that meeting is, of course, to make progress so we can have a positive decision at the Vilnius summit on Swedish membership,” Stoltenberg said.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year, citing changes in the European security picture because of the war in Ukraine. As Finland went on to become a member, Turkey, and Hungary stymied Sweden’s bid, with Budapest citing grievances over Stockholm’s criticism of Hungary’s Prime Minister and Ankara accusing Sweden of harboring what it considers Kurdish terrorists and, most recently, meddling in Turkish elections and the desecration of the Quran.