NATO welcomes Türkiye’s backing of Swedish membership

NATO welcomes Türkiye’s backing of Swedish membership

NATO member-states welcomed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s backing of Sweden’s membership bid, in a communique released after the critical summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania on Tuesday, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.

“We look forward to welcoming Sweden as a full member of the Alliance and, in this regard, welcome the agreement reached between the NATO Secretary General (Jens Stoltenberg), the President of Türkiye, and the Prime Minister of Sweden,” said a joint statement issued after day one of the ongoing summit.

Türkiye on Monday, the eve of the summit, agreed to send Sweden’s NATO Accession Protocol to its parliament for ratification. The announcement was made by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg after meeting Erdoğan and Kristersson.

Sweden, for its part, reiterated it will not support terrorist organizations such as the PKK, and its affiliates, and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye.

Stockholm will also assist in efforts to reinvigorate Türkiye’s EU accession process, including modernization of the EU-Türkiye Customs Union and visa liberalization.

The communique described the fight against terrorism as “essential” for NATO’s defense.

“We categorically reject and condemn terrorism in the strongest possible terms. Countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is essential to our collective defence,” it said.

Regarding Ukraine’s NATO membership, the communique underlined that the alliance “fully supports” Kyiv’s right to choose its own security arrangements, adding that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO.”

“We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognise that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan,” it said. “Ukraine has become increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the Alliance, and has made substantial progress on its reform path.”

However, it added that the alliance will extend an invitation to Ukraine when “allies agree and conditions are met.”

Communication with Moscow, importance of Black Sea region, Kosovo

The press release said NATO remains willing to “keep open” the channels of communication with Moscow, which launched a war on Ukraine last year in February, to “manage and mitigate risks, prevent escalation, and increase transparency.”

“We seek stability and predictability in the Euro-Atlantic area and between NATO and Russia. NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia,” it said. “In light of its hostile policies and actions, we cannot consider Russia to be our partner. Any change in our relationship depends on Russia halting its aggressive behaviour and fully complying with international law.”

The document also reiterated the “strategic importance” of the Black Sea region for the alliance.

“We underline our continued support to Allied regional efforts aimed at upholding security, safety, stability and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea region including, as appropriate, through the 1936 Montreux Convention,” the communique said.

On tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, NATO said its Kosovo Force (KFOR) “will continue to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement in Kosovo,” adding that recent “escalatory actions are unacceptable.”

Allies to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense

The NATO allies committed to raise the alliance’s target for military spending to at least 2% of the national GDP.

“Consistent with our obligations under Article 3 of the Washington Treaty, we make an enduring commitment to invest at least 2% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually on defence,” the joint statement said.

“We do so recognising more is needed urgently to sustainably meet our commitments as NATO Allies, including to fulfill longstanding major equipment requirements and the NATO Capability Targets, to resource NATO’s new defence plans and force model, as well as to contribute to NATO operations, missions and activities.”

The statement said NATO’s engagement with international and regional organisations, including the U.N., the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the African Union, will be strengthened “to advance our shared interests,” and that establishing a Liaison Office in Geneva is on the cards.