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Turkey inches toward ratifying Sweden's NATO bid

As Turkish and Swedish officials prepare to come together in a new round of talks to overcome Ankara’s objectives for Sweden’s membership, analysts are cautiously optimistic that Sweden may attend the upcoming alliance’s Vilnius summit as a member.
LISE ASERUD/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

IZMIR, Turkey — Ankara and Stockholm will come together next week in an attempt to clear the obstacles to Sweden’s NATO accession as pressure grows on Turkey to ratify Sweden’s membership bid ahead of the alliance’s summit in mid-July.   

The announcement of a new round of talks between Sweden and Turkey follows a charm offensive by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Carl Bildt, Sweden’s former prime minister who has political sway with both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the current Swedish government. Both attended Erdogan’s swearing-in ceremony over the weekend. Stoltenberg also held a separate meeting with Erdogan as well as the foreign and defense ministers in the new Cabinet Sunday, during which the two discussed the alliance’s July 11-12 summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where many NATO members would like to see Sweden sit beside newcomer Finland as a member. 

Urging Ankara to ratify Sweden’s accession as soon as possible, Stoltenberg maintained that Stockholm had fulfilled its pledges on addressing Turkey’s security concerns such as stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation, including against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is on the terror organizations list of Ankara, Washington and Brussels.   

"President Erdogan and I agreed today that the permanent joint mechanism should meet again in the week starting on June 12," Stoltenberg said Sunday, referring to the diplomatic platform set up last year to address Turkey’s requests from the two Nordic states for greenlighting their accession to NATO. The meeting, expected to be held at senior officials level, will also include Finland, although the Turkish parliament unanimously approved Helsinki’s membership in March. 

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