Turkey will agree to support Sweden's Nato membership, Stoltenberg says

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) shakes hands with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) shakes hands with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Credit: AP

Turkey has agreed to approve Sweden's application to join Nato "as soon as possible", the military alliance's secretary general has said.

Jens Stoltenberg made the announcement on Monday after talks between Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

Sweden's Nato accession has been held up by objections from Turkey since last year, with President Erdogan accusing Sweden of hosting Kurdish militants.

Turkey, as one of Nato's 31 member nations, has a veto over any new country joining the alliance.

"This is an historic day because we have a clear commitment by Turkey to submit the ratification documents to the Grand National Assembly, and to work also with the assembly to ensure ratification," Mr Stoltenberg told reporters.

Earlier on Monday, President Erdogan said that he would block Sweden's path unless European members of Nato "pave the way" for Turkey to join the European Union (EU).

Turkey's attempts to join the bloc have been at a standstill since 2018, due to concerns over democratic freedoms under President Erdogan's rule.

But his U-turn has now opened the door for Sweden's entry to Nato.

President Erdogan first met with Mr Kristersson on Monday before breaking off for a separate meeting with European Council President Charles Michel.

Mr Michel tweeted that he and Erdogan had "explored opportunities ahead to bring cooperation back to the forefront and re-energise our relations".

President Erdogan has previously accused Sweden of hosting Kurdish militants. Credit: AP

He said he has tasked the European Commission to draw up a "report with a view to proceed in strategic and forward-looking manner".

Nato is set to stage a crunch summit in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, which begins on Tuesday.

The talks are set to explore how to align Ukraine closer to Nato without it actually joining as a member.

Mr Stoltenberg said the most important thing was to continue to support Ukraine's efforts to resist the Russian invasion.

"Unless Ukraine prevails there is no membership issue to discuss at all," he said.

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