Lodi News-Sentinel

Turkey: Talks on Sweden’s NATO bid to resume in Brussels

- Niclas Rolander and Ugur Yilmaz

Turkey is ready to resume talks on Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO, after negotiatio­ns had been halted following incidents including a Koran burning last month outside of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Days after a visit by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenber­g to Ankara, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a committee set up to oversee progress on an agreement between the three countries will meet at the defense alliance’s headquarte­rs in Brussels. Speaking at a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken on Monday, Cavusoglu indicated North Atlantic Treaty Organizati­on representa­tives will attend the talks.

Sweden has recently come closer to a prospect of seeing its bid for membership stall as its fellow invitee, Finland, looks closer to winning the Turkish parliament’s sign-off. The announceme­nt of a resumption of talks was welcomed by Sweden’s prime minister, Ulf Kristersso­n.

“I have said, a few weeks ago, that we want to return to those talks as soon as possible, bring down the temperatur­e and hold constructi­ve talks as that is a condition for Sweden to join as soon as possible,” Kristersso­n said at a press conference in Stockholm. “It’s very good that these talks can restart, but as far as I am aware there are no dates set for this.”

The relationsh­ip between the two countries soured after an incident in which an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hoisted upside down from a lamppost in Stockholm, and the burning of a Koran by a Danish-Swedish farright activist. After that, talks on ratificati­on were halted and Erdogan said Sweden shouldn’t expect Turkish support for its membership bid.

Kristersso­n said that while it’s ultimately up to Turkey to decide whether or not to ratify the applicatio­n, Sweden will continue to follow the agreement hammered out at NATO’s June summit in Madrid last year, which includes pledges from the Nordic countries to avoid arms embargoes on Turkey and do more to combat terrorism. Sweden’s government is likely to decide on new, stricter anti-terror laws next month for entry into force June 1.

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