Sweden: no new concessions to Turkey in Nato stand-off

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson says Sweden is working to fulfil June agreement

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin shakes hands with her new Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, in Helsinki. AP
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Sweden's new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Friday that no new concessions to Turkey were on the table in the stand-off over Nato's expansion.

Mr Kristersson said Sweden would not go beyond the counter-terrorism commitments it made to Turkey in June.

"Nothing more than that, but nothing less than that either," he said on his first visit to Finland since taking office.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said she was committed to Sweden and Finland joining Nato simultaneously.

The declaration came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that Turkey could ratify Finland's application before Sweden's.

The two Nordic countries applied to join Nato in May. Turkey and Hungary are the only two of 30 Nato allies that are yet to ratify their applications.

Sweden and Finland committed in the June agreement to taking a harder line on Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

But with Ankara still not wholly satisfied, Mr Kristersson said on Friday he was preparing a visit to Ankara to speak to Mr Erdogan in person.

"We respect that every country has to make their own decision on this. But of course, Sweden and Finland want as soon a ratification as possible," Mr Kristersson said.

"There are no other concessions being made except for the very obvious obligations we have according to the trilateral agreement, and that is fair enough."

Ms Marin said that when she met Mr Erdogan in Prague on October 6, he repeated that he was happier with Finland than Sweden.

But she said it was important for the security of the Nordic region that Finland and Sweden should join the alliance together.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has put the brakes on Nato expansion in a stand-off over terrorism. Bloomberg

The two countries handed in their applications together in May, seeking protection after Russia invaded Ukraine.

"We are very committed to walking hand-in-hand [in] the Nato process with Sweden, as we have done so far," Ms Marin said.

"It’s very important that we would both become Nato member states simultaneously, because it’s not only to do with Finland or Sweden but the whole Nordic part of Europe, the whole security environment."

Hungary, which has often frustrated its European allies by blocking sanctions on Russia, said this week that its MPs would consider the two Nato applications in December.

Mr Kristersson replaced Magdalena Andersson after a narrow election victory last month but promised to co-operate with opposition parties on the Nato question.

He said his government was looking at ways to increase military aid to Ukraine without weakening Sweden's defences at home.

Updated: October 28, 2022, 1:29 PM