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Deal on Swedish NATO membership within reach - Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, July 6, 2023.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, July 6, 2023. Copyright Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sandor Zsiros
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Turkey has blocked Stockholm's membership bid since last year.

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An agreement for the ratification of Sweden's NATO accession is within reach, according to the NATO Secretary General.

Jens Stoltenberg spoke on the matter on Thursday, after meeting with representatives of Sweden, Turkey and Finland at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

The NATO leader says he has convened a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson for Monday in Vilnius, ahead of a summit of NATO leaders in order to reach a political agreement.

"What is possible and what we are all working to achieve is a positive decision at the summit where Turkiye makes clear that they are ready to ratify, but then we still have some work to do and we are working on that now," Stoltenberg told reporters.

"We had a meeting now, we are working over the weekend, and then I will meet with the prime minister and the president on Monday."

Sweden applied for NATO membership together with Finland shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.

But Turkey has since blocked Stockholm’s bid, accusing it of sheltering what Ankara describes as Kurdish PKK terrorists. The Swedish foreign affairs minister, Tobias Billström, told Euronews that he is confident his country fulfilled all of Ankara's demands.

"I don't want to go into details, since after all this was a closed meeting and we don't want to interfere with the ongoing discussions," he said in an interview.

"But again I would like to reiterate, we believe from our point that we have fulfilled all our commitments. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as much at his press conference. 

"Now, we are working towards the meeting at the beginning of the summit in Vilnius next week," he added.

Once an agreement is reached, the Turkish parliament still needs to formally ratify Sweden’s NATO membership. So far, Hungary is the only country to have also refused to go through with the ratification but said it will not block it.

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