NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that after a year of opposition, Turkey has agreed to support Sweden’s bid to join the NATO military alliance, calling the moment a “historic step.”
Stoltenberg said that Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to send the accession protocol to the Turkish parliament for approval as soon as possible, noting that Erdogan would “ensure ratification …Sweden will become a full member of the alliance.”
Most alliance members have supported Sweden’s efforts to join the defense organization in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey, however, has maintained its opposition to Sweden’s bid for more than a year. Sweden is one of several countries in Europe that has welcomed the Kurdish diaspora and Stockholm has been host to several protests in support of the Kurdish Worker’s Party — that is officially considered a terrorist group by Sweden and Turkey.
The news comes after Stoltenberg held talks between Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson the evening before the NATO summit was slated to begin in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday. President Biden also spoke with Erdogan on Monday over the phone, and the two discussed Sweden’s membership bid. On the call, they decided to meet in person in Vilnius on Tuesday.
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