Turkey should not link joining EU to Sweden's NATO entry: US

AFP , Monday 10 Jul 2023

The United States supports Turkey's bid to enter the European Union but does not believe Ankara should link that to accepting Sweden's entry into NATO, a senior American official said Monday.

NATO summit, in Vilnius
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (top-C), Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (R) react during a meeting, on the eve of a NATO summit, in Vilnius on July 10, 2023. AFP


"The United States has for a number of years supported Turkey's EU aspirations and we continue to do so," said State Department spokesman Matt Miller.

"However, we do not believe that it should be an impediment to Sweden's accession to NATO," Miller said.

Earlier Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stunned fellow NATO leaders on the eve of their Vilnius summit by linking his approval for Sweden's candidacy to a resumption of Ankara's long-stalled membership talks with the European Union.

Miller stressed that the United States has no role in EU decisions on its membership, saying: "Ultimately, that's a matter between the European Union and Turkey."

But he said the expansion of NATO to include Sweden was important to Washington.

He pointed out that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken to Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan three times in the last six days, and that President Joe Biden spoke with Erdogan on Sunday.

Sweden has met Ankara's demands to gain its approval for entering NATO, Miller said.

"We believe that Sweden has addressed them and, as I said, we think it's time to move to full membership," he added.

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