Stockholm has done everything it could to get Ankara’s consent, the FM told journalists
Türkiye’s ratification of Sweden’s accession to NATO depends on the US and its willingness to supply fighter jets to the nation, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told journalists at the alliance headquarters in Brussels ahead of a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan.
It follows reports earlier this month that Ankara had allegedly informed NATO members that Sweden wouldn’t join at this week’s meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in the Belgian capital.
Ankara wants to beef up its fleet of F-16 jets with new aircraft and upgrade kits for existing planes. The US, which previously kicked Türkiye out of its F-35 program for buying Russian weapons, wants to tie the deal with deliveries of F-35s to Greece.
Sweden’s membership in NATO has become “hostage” to Washington’s policies and maneuvers between the two rival members of the bloc, Billstrom said, as cited by Dagens Nyheter daily.
“We have fulfilled our commitments and we expect the Turkish parliament to complete the ratification process, just as we agreed in Vilnius,” the minister said, referring to the NATO summit Lithuania hosted in July. During the gathering, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed Sweden’s candidacy.
The agreement was reportedly facilitated by US President Joe Biden’s promise to overcome resistance to F-16 sales in Congress, which he intends to do by bundling F-35 deliveries for Greece with the deal.
“I’m trying to, quite frankly, put together a little bit of a consortium here where we’re strengthening NATO in terms of the military capacity of both Greece as well as Türkiye, and allow Sweden to come in,” he told CNN at the time.
Senator Robert Menendez, a vocal opponent of selling advanced weapons to Ankara, stepped down from his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee in September, after being charged with corruption.
Erdogan submitted the treaty on Sweden’s accession to the Turkish parliament in late October.
However, last week, Reuters reported that Ankara had notified NATO members that it wouldn’t be able to officially ratify Sweden’s bid in time for a meeting of foreign ministers that is taking place in Brussels between November 29 and 28. A formal accession ceremony was allegedly expected at the event.
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Türkiye’s ouster from the F-35 program happened in 2019 in retaliation for its purchase of Russian S-400 long-range air defense systems. US officials claimed that supplying the jets to Ankara would expose its secrets to potential Russian snooping.