Stoltenberg Vows Sweden 'Will Soon' Join NATO Despite Turkish Rejection
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was quick to hail and celebrate the Friday announcement by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that his country will ratify Finland's application to join NATO.
The NATO chief told Reuters that it is a "a good day for everyone that believes in NATO enlargement." He said, "Finnish membership will strengthen NATO, it will strengthen Finnish security. It will also strengthen Swedish security."
But despite the two Nordic countries previously pledging to enter the alliance "hand in hand", it became clear after Erdogan's remarks that Sweden will remained sidelined. Hungary is the only other country which has also remained a holdout, refusing thus far to take action on ratification.
But Stoltenberg said that Erdogan is still willing to continue consultations on potential Swedish membership. "I'm confident also that Sweden will join soon, and I will work hard for that," he said.
Erdogan had announced following a meeting with his Finnish counterpart."We have decided to start the protocol of Finland's accession to NATO in our parliament."
Concerning Sweden, Erdogan commented that his country submitted a list of 120 "terrorists" to Stockholm, but complained that not a single one of them has been extradited.
Sweden's membership bid is expected to continue to stall, after deteriorating relations with Turkey in the wake of the Quran-burning incident by a far-right activist. Turkey has also demanded Swedish authorities crackdown on Kurdish political groups and operatives while alleging that Stockholm has hosted "terrorists" on its soil.
NATO member map from from 2016: Montenegro joined in 2017 and North Macedonia joined in 2020.
Finland is at the same time building a 200km fence along its border with Russia to boost security, also after reporting that Russian men fled across the border by the droves in order to escape conscription. The fence will reportedly be 10 feet high and topped with barbed wire.