NATO’s secretary-general said on Sunday that Sweden and Finland could join NATO by 2023, but noted that the decision depends on the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments.
“I expect (accession will take place in 2023), but I will not guarantee the exact date, because of course it is a sovereign decision of the Turkish parliament and the Hungarian parliament, (which) have not yet ratified the agreement,” Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
Hungary and Turkey in particular have been blocking the two northern countries from entering NATO since May.
“We had negotiations, and they were very demanding, in July last year, when Turkey, Finland and Sweden agreed on a joint memorandum in which they described how they could intensify their cooperation, both with regard to arms exports, but also, for example, in the fight against terrorism,” Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned.
Finland and Sweden have respected this agreement and are clearly committed to long-term cooperation with Turkey on these issues. So, it’s time to finalize the accession process and ratify the accession protocol.
Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO
Just earlier in the day, the Swedish prime minister decried some of the requests from Turkey.
In December, the Swedish Supreme Court refused to extradite journalist Bulent Kines at the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara “also says that it wants things that we cannot and do not want to give,” Ulf Kristersson confirmed at the time during a conference on defense and security.
The Secretary General of NATO referred to the speed of the accession process of the two countries.
“Of course, I would like it to be completed as soon as possible. But at the same time, it is a fast process compared to all NATO membership processes,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.
He concluded, “I am convinced it will happen, but I will be careful not to speculate on the exact moment when it will happen.”