German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius called on Turkey to admit Sweden to NATO “soon,” during a joint news statement Monday with his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak.
“With regard to the war in Ukraine, the new situation that we are experiencing, the security situation, forces us to talk about deterrence and defense capability again, and it is important that Sweden becomes a NATO member soon, that Turkey gives up its resistance,“ Pistorius said ahead of a visit to a base in Zamosc, Eastern Poland, where Patriot air defense systems are stationed.
Both Sweden and its neighbor Finland stated their intent to join NATO through its open-door policy in May last year, just weeks after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Finland was finally accepted in April of this year, doubling the defensive alliance’s border with Russia, but Sweden’s accession is currently blocked.
It is generally accepted that Sweden’s armed forces are compatible with NATO. Sweden has a permanent delegation at NATO and is considered a close partner to the alliance, meaning joining should be relatively straightforward.
But Turkey -- a strategically important NATO member due to its geographical location in both the Middle East and Europe, and the alliance’s second-largest military power – has been blocking Sweden’s accession for a number of reasons.
Among them is the claim that Sweden allows members of recognized Kurdish terror groups to operate in the country, most notably the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Sweden changed its terrorism laws earlier this year, making it a crime to be part of these groups, but it is not clear whether this will convince Turkey to allow the country to join NATO.