Sweden still hopeful for NATO entry despite Turkey block, says PM
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference ahead of the 2022 NATO Summit. NATO summit will be held in Madrid from 28 to 30 June. -/NATO/dpa
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference ahead of the 2022 NATO Summit. NATO summit will be held in Madrid from 28 to 30 June. -/NATO/dpa

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is optimistic that Turkish opposition to Finland and her country's entry to NATO can be resolved in talks with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid this week.

Speaking on Monday alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Andersson said it is her "strong hope" that talks between Sweden, Finland and Turkey can "be successfully concluded in the near future, ideally before the summit," referring to the NATO leaders summit that begins on Tuesday.

Andersson stressed Sweden's commitment to combatting terrorism, a major reason for Turkey's opposition, during a press conference in the Brussels NATO headquarters. "We are unequivocally committed to the fight against terrorists in all its forms and manifestations, and as allies we will be fully committed to NATO counterterrorism policy," she said.

The Swedish prime minister highlighted her country's upcoming anti-terrorism legislation that comes into force on July 1 as demonstration of that dedication.

Andersson also underlined her country's designation of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), as a terrorist organization. "Sweden is not and will not be a safe haven for terrorists," she said.

Erdogan has so far blocked the two Nordic countries' bids to join NATO, accusing them of providing support to terrorist groups banned in Turkey, such as the PKK and the YPG, a Kurdish militia based in Syria. Both countries dispute the Turkish claims.

Andersson, Erdogan and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö are meeting in Madrid on Tuesday in a bid to make progress over the impasse, as the two Nordic countries press their case for membership in the security alliance against resistance from Ankara.

Speaking earlier, Stoltenberg played down expectations of a breakthrough ahead of talks with Turkey in a a separate Brussels press conference.

Stoltenberg said he "will not make promises" ahead of the meeting between Erdogan and the Finnish and Swedish leaders. The top NATO official is also expected to take part.

The aim of the Madrid talks "is to make progress," Stoltenberg said, but underlined "it's too early to say what kind of progress" could be made ahead of the summit.

Finland and Sweden set aside their policies of military non-alignment and neutrality in the wake of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, with large percentages of both countries' populations saying they would feel safer in NATO.

Preparatory work for the Tuesday talks between Niinistö, Andersson and Erdogan ended in Brussels on Monday with no new developments.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference ahead of the 2022 NATO Summit. NATO summit will be held in Madrid from 28 to 30 June. -/NATO/dpa