Jul 10, 2023 - World

Turkish President Erdoğan agrees to back Sweden's NATO bid, Stoltenberg says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a press conference during the Meeting of the European Political Community on October 6, 2022 in Prague, Czech Repulic. (Photo by Michal Cizek / AFP) (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a press conference during the Meeting of the European Political Community on Oct. 6, 2022, in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has agreed to support Sweden's bid for NATO membership, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.

Why it matters: Erdoğan's veto was the primary factor preventing Sweden from becoming NATO's 32nd member.

  • The Turkish leader claimed Sweden had harbored militants who Turkey views as terrorists, and he insisted Stockholm lift a ban on arms exports to Ankara.
  • Sweden had amended its laws and lifted the ban in order to comply with those requests, but Erdoğan seemed to move the goalposts again in recent days by linking Sweden's NATO accession to Turkey's path to EU membership.

The big picture: Pessimism had been setting in about the likelihood of any breakthrough before the NATO summit starting Tuesday in Lithuania, but according to Stoltenberg's statement, Turkey will now "transmit the Accession Protocol for Sweden to the Grand National Assembly, and work closely with the Assembly to ensure ratification."

  • President Biden in a statement welcomed Stoltenberg's announcement. "I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO Ally," the U.S. president said.

What to watch: Hungary's parliament must also ratify Sweden's accession before it becomes official.

  • The legislative hurdles are unlikely to be cleared before the summit, but the agreement struck between Erdoğan and Stoltenberg sends a clear signal that Sweden's flag will likely be flying at NATO headquarters soon.
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