(Photo Credit: Reuters)
Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced on 27 February that negotiations regarding Sweden’s ascension to joining The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will be held in Belgium’s capital on 9 March.
#Canlı 📡#Macaristan Dışişleri Bakanı Peter Szijjártó ile Ortak Basın Toplantısı#Live📡
Joint Press Conference with Peter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs of #Hungary
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) February 27, 2023
This upcoming meeting will be the third trilateral meet-up on Sweden’s ascension bid, with the Turkish foreign minister adding that Finland’s potential membership to NATO will be dealt with separately.
Turkiye and Hungary are the only NATO members to have not ratified Sweden and Finland’s proposal to join the US-led military alliance.
“It is not possible for us to give consent (to a NATO bid) before Sweden fulfills its commitments,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have not seen satisfactory steps from Sweden on the implementation of the Madrid memorandum,” a joint counter-terrorism agreement.
Turkiye mainly objected to Sweden’s pursuit of NATO membership over its alleged support to Kurdish separatist militant groups in neighboring countries such as Iraq and Syria. These groups are mainly comprised of members from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkiye considers to be terror organizations and holds them responsible for the Istanbul bombing in November 2022.
This announcement comes a week after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken affirmed Washington’s support for Sweden’s ascension to joining NATO.
“Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfill the commitments that they met under the trilateral memorandum of agreement that they signed,” Blinken stated.
However, Ankara demands that Stockholm ends its open arms policy with Kurdish armed groups, saying, “there has been progress, but it is not enough.”
This comes a few weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed Sweden that it should not expect Ankara’s support in its bid to join the US-led alliance following the burning of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, which Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan described as “blasphemy.”