Istanbul, Monday, 10 July 2023
The NATO summit will be urged by Turkish President Erdogan to make room for Ankara's EU membership, which will clear the road for Sweden's NATO membership.
"The EU now has nearly all of the former NATO members as members. I'm addressing these nations that have made Türkiye wait for the EU for more than 50 years, but I'll also address Vilnius.
Before travelling to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to attend a NATO meeting, Erdogan said at a news conference in Istanbul, "Let's first pave the way for Turkey in the EU, and then we will pave the way for Sweden just as we did for Finland."
Erdogan stated that he will meet with leaders outside of the summit to discuss these issues and make the requests.
Later on Monday, Erdogan said that he will meet with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a trilateral setting. He added: "As for Sweden, the process continues. Transparent and with good intentions, our relevant institutions keep in touch with their Swedish counterparts.
The president did stress that the fulfilment of the conditions stated in a tripartite agreement made last year in Madrid during a NATO summit is a must for Sweden to join NATO.
We Turks are sick of hearing that we must indiscriminately combat terrorist organisations and their offshoots, he continued.
No one should anticipate Ankara to make any compromises or demonstrate understanding in a scenario where Turkish soldiers, police officers, and people have been killed by the terrorist organisations, Erdogan continued.
The Turkish parliament has the final say on Stockholm's membership in NATO, he emphasised.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, its difficulties for NATO, and efforts to bolster the military alliance's defence and deterrence will all be discussed during the two-day NATO summit in Vilnius. The discussion will also include Sweden's application to join NATO.
Sweden and Finland submitted NATO membership applications shortly after Russia declared war on Ukraine in February 2022.
Despite having approved Finland's NATO membership, Turkey is still waiting on Sweden to honour its end of the bargain.
Erdogan previously emphasised that Sweden cannot expect to join NATO as long as it provides protection and a pass for terrorists and those who assist terrorists.
Sweden needs the consent of all of the alliance's current members, including Turkey, which has been a part of it for more than 70 years and has the second-largest army, in order to join.
Erdogan added that there is no connection between Turkey's acquisition of F-16s from the US and Sweden's NATO candidature.
In October 2021, Ankara placed a request for F-16 fighter aircraft and upgrading kits. The $6 billion agreement would include the supply of 40 jets as well as upgrade kits for 79 existing Turkish Air Force aircraft. Congress has been formally informed of the proposed sale by the State Department.
But influential members of Congress have pledged to scuttle the agreement over a number of demands, including linking the purchase to Ankara's approval of Sweden's NATO membership application.
According to Ankara, the jets would benefit NATO as well as Turkey.
"Although Finland is not associated with terrorism in this sense, we brought the Finland problem before our parliament even as we continue to battle against terrorism worldwide, particularly Daesh. Our parliament had already prepared the path for its membership at this moment. We're done now. But that's not how the F-16 problem is, the president added.
"With this meeting, I hope that we will be able to solve this problem," he continued, adding that he will have more discussions with US President Joe Biden outside of the summit. We find it saddening that this is connected to Sweden. This is distinctive in some way. We will remind them of this.
Erdogan stated that during the summit, the leaders will examine the choices made at the Madrid Summit to help the allies, particularly Ukraine, and to fortify the alliance's deterrent and defence structure.
"We believe that ending the war with a fair and lasting peace as soon as possible will further facilitate Ukraine's NATO membership process," he continued.
He added that he would reaffirm Ankara's request to the allies who have placed sanctions and limitations on Turkey to quickly correct the error.
We are constrained by the limitations and impediments that some of our partners have wrongly imposed on our nation. Defence spending in our nation, which was nearly 2% in 2019, is now at 1.30%, he continued.
(Research and edit by: The Decision Maker – International Relations editors)
(Picture: EU Political Report)