Blinken to push Turkey, Hungary to ratify Sweden joining NATO
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will push Turkey and Hungary to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO during an informal meeting of foreign ministers in Norway next week, the State Department said, ahead of the alliance’s main summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.
Blinken will travel to Oslo on May 31 in the wake of Turkey’s runoff elections between incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his challenger, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Erdoğan, who is favored to win on Sunday, has doubled down on his blocking Sweden’s accession into NATO, criticizing Stockholm as harboring what he describes as terrorists associated with Kurdish militant groups.
“We have had extensive conversations with the Turkish Government about — allies, including ours, a clear conviction that Sweden is ready for membership now,” said Dereck Hogan, acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, in a briefing with reporters on Friday previewing Blinken’s travel. The secretary will also travel to Sweden and Finland.
“And so of course we have the second round of the elections in Turkey, this coming Sunday. So we’ll see how they will go. But clearly, this will be an ongoing part of our discussions, of our engagements with the new Turkish government,” Hogan continued.
“So we do very much look forward to seeing both Turkey, as well as Hungary, ratify Sweden’s accession protocols, very soon, prior to the summit in Vilnius.”
Erdoğan said in an interview with CNN last week that, “We’re not ready for Sweden right now,” while an aide to Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly said the candidate is in favor of approving Sweden joining the alliance.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is holding up Sweden’s ascension over grievances that Stockholm has been critical of the erosion of rule of law in the country.
“The political relations between Hungary and Sweden are awfully wrong,” Orban said during a forum in Qatar on Tuesday, Reuters reported. “We don’t want to import conflicts into NATO.”
The holdouts from Turkey and Hungary have prevented Sweden from joining the alliance even as 28 of the 30 member nations of NATO have ratified the accession protocols.
Sweden, along with Finland, was prompted to join the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Finland was granted accession to the alliance in April.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.