Sweden remaining outside NATO will not change anything in short term, says foreign minister


Sweden remaining outside NATO will not change anything in the short term, the Swedish foreign minister said Friday.

Tobias Billstrom in a press conference commented on Türkiye's decision to ratify Finland's NATO membership protocol in parliament, a move he considered expected but undesired.

"But we are prepared," he said.

Billstrom added that Finland joining NATO first will not affect Sweden much in the short term.

"We wanted to join together … If the process takes too long, it is true that many things will change. While Finland would be more integrated into NATO, Sweden will be left out," he said.

Noting that Finland has fulfilled Türkiye's security concerns, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto in Ankara, said: "We have decided to launch the approval process of Finland's NATO membership protocol in our Parliament.”

On Sweden's process, however, Erdogan said the process "will be directly linked to the concrete steps which Sweden will take."

Abandoning decades of military non-alignment, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO last May.

However, Türkiye, a longstanding NATO member, asked the two Nordic states to take concrete action against terror groups like the PKK and FETO.

In June, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum with Türkiye to address Ankara’s security concerns, and senior diplomats and officials from the three countries have held various meetings since then to discuss the implementation of the trilateral agreement.

Among the NATO members states, only Hungary and Türkiye have not yet ratified Sweden's and Finland's applications for inclusion in NATO.

Meanwhile, Sweden passed an anti-terror law last November, hoping that Ankara would approve Stockholm’s bid to join the NATO alliance. The new law, which will go into force on June 1, will allow Swedish authorities to prosecute individuals who support terrorist organizations.

* Writing by Nur Asena Erturk in Ankara

Source: Anadolu Agency