Turkey agrees to refer Sweden’s request to join NATO to Parliament and news of accelerating Ankara’s membership negotiations in the European Union

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Turkey had agreed to refer Sweden’s request to join the alliance to the Turkish parliament, while Bloomberg quoted a Turkish official as saying that EU officials had agreed to accelerate Ankara’s membership negotiations.

Stoltenberg made it clear that President Erdogan agreed to refer the protocol of Sweden’s accession to the Turkish National Assembly as soon as possible and to work closely with the parliament to ensure ratification, after a meeting that brought them together with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Christson to discuss Sweden’s accession to the alliance, prior to a NATO summit to be held tomorrow.

Stoltenberg added that the completion of Sweden’s accession bid is a “historic step”, and that Sweden’s cooperation with Turkey in combating terrorism will continue even after joining the alliance.

On the other hand, Bloomberg Agency quoted a Turkish official as saying that European Union officials agreed to accelerate Ankara’s membership negotiations in the European bloc, and that the negotiations include Turkey’s accession to the customs union and allowing its citizens to travel without a visa.

The White House said earlier today that the United States supports Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union, while Germany said that there is no connection between the issue of Turkey’s accession and the issue of Sweden’s accession to NATO, which Ankara has reservations about so far.

The White House stated that Washington has always supported Ankara’s accession to the EU, but this issue is between Turkey and the members of the bloc.

“Our focus is on Sweden, which is ready for NATO membership,” said a spokesman for the US National Security Council.

NATO leaders meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Lithuania for a summit that is expected to be dominated by the alliance’s response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and Kiev’s request to join the alliance.

Erdogan criticized the Swedish authorities for being lenient with the Kurdish militants who took refuge in its lands, and calls for the handover of dozens of them.

Turkey and Hungary are the only two countries in the alliance that have not yet ratified Sweden’s membership, despite measures the Scandinavian country says it has taken, including amending its constitution and adopting a new anti-terrorism law.

Schultz and Erdogan

In the same context, German Chancellor Olaf Schultz said that Sweden’s accession to NATO has nothing to do with the issue of Turkey’s accession to the European Union, after Erdogan linked these two issues.

“They should not be considered as two related issues,” Schultz said during a press conference in Berlin, stressing that “nothing prevents Sweden from joining NATO,” wishing Stockholm would join NATO soon.

He added that he received a positive message from Erdogan’s statements about Sweden’s membership in NATO.

Earlier today, Erdogan said, “They paved the way for Turkey’s membership in the European Union first, and then we pave the way for Sweden’s membership in NATO, as we did with Finland.”

Erdogan added that Turkey has been waiting to join the European Union for more than 50 years, calling for opening the door for it just as Ankara opened the door for Finland’s accession to NATO, and stressed that Sweden’s accession to the alliance depends on its fulfillment of its obligations in the tripartite memorandum in Madrid, as he put it.

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