Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Photo/REUTERS
STOCKHOLM – Mevlut Cavusoglu from Turkey will not attend the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Oslo, Norway, this week. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said this on Wednesday (31/5/2023).
Cavusoglu’s absence means no progress will be made on Sweden’s bid to become a member of NATO, although Stockholm insists it is now ready.
Billstrom told Reuters he hoped to meet Cavusoglu in the Norwegian capital, but the two would speak at a later date as part of the deal they signed last year in Madrid.
This agreement, according to Billstrom, “is much more important than two ministers sitting down and drinking coffee.”
Sweden, Finland and Turkey agreed last year that the two Nordic nations would lift the arms embargo on Turkey, extradite suspected Kurdish terrorists and Gulen, and crack down on the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) within their borders, in return for Ankara removing its veto on accession. them to NATO.
Access to the US-led bloc requires the unanimous consent of all existing members. Turkey signed up to Finland’s bid in March, after passing strict anti-terrorism laws.
Billstrom said a similar law that took effect in Sweden this week should meet Ankara’s demands.
Billstrom also said “there are high expectations that we will become a member” before NATO leaders meet for their annual summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in July.
This week’s meeting in Oslo is the only NATO meeting scheduled before the Vilnius summit, giving Billstrom and Cavusoglu six weeks to determine whether Sweden’s new law is sufficient for Ankara to lift its veto.
Apart from Turkey, Hungary is the only NATO member that has not ratified Sweden’s membership application.
Budapest cites Stockholm’s support for legal action against LGBT conservatives and migration policies as key factors behind the impasse.