NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had agreed to forward Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance to the Turkish parliament. Stoltenberg made the announcement after talks with Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on the eve of a NATO summit in Lithuania. “This is a historic day,” Stoltenberg said. A joint statement released by the three leaders does not specify a timeline for the Turkish parliament to approve Sweden’s application. “We take a very big step towards the formal ratification of Sweden’s membership in NATO. It has been a good day for Sweden,” Kristersson said.
Sweden, along with neighboring Finland, abandoned its longstanding military neutrality and applied for NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. But Stockholm’s entry into the military alliance had been blocked by two members, Turkey and Hungary. Earlier on Monday, Erdogan added to the list of demands he wanted fulfilled in exchange for finally backing Sweden’s accession to NATO. Speaking just hours before meeting Kristersson, Erdogan suggested if the European Union wanted Sweden in NATO, it should let Turkey into the EU.