“Turkey has confirmed that we have done what we said we would do, but it also says that it wants things that we cannot, that we do not want, to give it,” Ulf Kristersson said during a security conference that was also attended by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
“We are confident that Turkey will make a decision, we just don’t know when,” he said, adding that it will depend on internal politics in Turkey as well as “Sweden’s ability to show its seriousness.”
Breaking with decades of military non-alignment, Sweden and Finland applied to join the US-led defense alliance in response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
But Turkey has refused to accept their bid until the two countries take steps, including joining Turkey’s fight against outlawed Kurdish militants.
Most of Turkey’s demands have involved Sweden because of its stronger ties with the Kurdish diaspora.
Finland’s foreign minister said the country would join NATO at the same time as the neighboring country.
“Finland is not in such a hurry to join NATO that we cannot wait until Sweden gets the green light,” Pekka Haavisto told reporters at Sunday’s conference.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said he expects both countries to be able to join the military alliance as early as this year, while admitting that the decision depends on the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments.
Among the 30 NATO members, only Hungary and Turkey have not yet given the green light to the two Nordic applications.
But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that parliament will soon approve both Finland’s and Sweden’s accession proposals, leaving Turkey the most important side.
“I expect (that the 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 and Hungarian parliaments (which) have not yet ratified the agreement,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with AFP.
Finland and Sweden “are clearly committed to long-term cooperation with Turkey,” and “it is time to complete the accession process and to ratify the accession protocol,” he added.
In late December, Turkey praised Sweden for responding to its security concerns but stressed that more was needed to win Ankara’s full support for Stockholm’s stalled NATO membership bid.