No Champagne for Swedes at NATO yet, PM says
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson trusts that Turkey will ratify his country's NATO bid.
VILNIUS — The Champagne will have to wait.
Sweden won a major breakthrough on its path to NATO membership this week when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to send Stockholm’s application for parliamentary ratification in Ankara.
But in the Lithuanian capital, where NATO leaders are gathered for a two-day summit, the Swedish delegation is holding off on full-scale celebrations.
“We thought the Champagne will have to wait until the ratifications are there,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told POLITICO in an interview on Tuesday of his team’s commemoration of the milestone. “So yesterday we gathered in a conference room and had a beer together.”
If the ratification happens, the Swedish leader said, “perhaps we’ll have Champagne.”
Sweden applied for NATO membership in 2022 together with Finland in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But despite introducing legal changes to address Turkish concerns about Kurdish groups, Stockholm’s bid stalled as it ran into resistance from Turkey and Hungary.
As part of a deal announced Monday, Ankara and Stockholm agreed to create a new bilateral Security Compact and to step up economic cooperation.
“We’re really committed in the long term,” the prime minister said, “to fighting terrorism, fighting organized crime, doing things collectively.”
In return for Sweden’s commitment, Erdoğan agreed to transmit its accession protocol “and work closely with the Assembly to ensure ratification,” according to a joint statement published Monday.
The move was hailed as a significant political achievement for the alliance.
Asked whether he received assurances from Erdoğan that the ratification will get done in a timely way, the Swedish prime minister expressed trust in the process but acknowledged the ball is in the Turkish legislature’s court.
“Parliaments are parliaments — they have to make their own decisions,” Kristersson said.
“Obviously, I do believe that this will happen,” the Swedish leader stressed, adding that “you need to respect parliaments” and “I think we have taken a very big step yesterday.”
Ahead of talks on Monday, Erdoğan unexpectedly appeared to link the Swedish NATO bid with Turkey’s own stalled EU membership aspirations.
And in the agreement later that day, Sweden committed to “actively support efforts to reinvigorate Türkiye’s EU accession process, including modernisation of the EU-Türkiye Customs Union and visa liberalisation.”
But asked about the move, the Swedish prime minister said this gesture is part of a long-standing position supporting Ankara.
“This was for us very undramatic,” he said, noting that “Sweden has since long been a strong advocate for stronger EU-Türkiye cooperation.”
But, the prime minister added, “of course, [the] NATO summit obviously cannot make any decisions on EU matters and vice-versa.”