US President Biden welcomes Turkey’s agreement to back Sweden’s NATO bid

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WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Monday (local time) welcomed his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s commitment to transmit the accession protocal for Sweden to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly for swift ratification.

Biden expressed readiness to work with Erdogan and Turkey on enhancing defence and deterrence. He stated that he looked forward to welcoming Sweden as US’ 32nd North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally. He thanked NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for his “steadfast leadership.”

Biden was quoted as saying in a statement released by the White House, “I welcome the statement issued by Turkiye, Sweden and the NATO Secretary General this evening, including the commitment by President Erdogan to transmit the Accession Protocol for Sweden to Turkiye’s Grand National Assembly for swift ratification.”

“I stand ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkiye on enhancing defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO Ally. And I thank Secretary General Stoltenberg for his steadfast leadership,” he added.

Biden’s statement comes after NATO Secretary General announced that Turkey has agreed to support Sweden’s bid to become a member of the military alliance. He made the announcement after his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Stoltenberg said, “I am glad to announce that, as a result, President Erdogan has agreed to forward the accession protocol for Sweden to the Grand National Assembly as soon as possible. And work closely with the Assembly to ensure ratification.”

Responding to a question on when Sweden can be expected to officially become a part of NATO, Stoltenberg was unwilling to respond and said that it was up to Turkey to make an announcement and preferred to focus on the merits of the decision, CNN reported.

He said, “I think that we have to respect that every parliament has their own integrity, their own timelines, so I welcome that the president has made this clear that he will work with the parliament to ensure ratification, but exactly when has to be announced by the Turkish parliament.” Stoltenberg noted that the announcement was a result of a year of negotiations.

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said that Sweden and Turkey have worked closely together to address “legitimate security concerns” of Ankara. He noted that Sweden has amended tis laws and expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and resumed arms exports to Turkey. He said that Turkey and Sweden have agreed to establish a new bilateral Security Compact.

The announcement on Sweden’s NATO bid comes after months of opposition and demands from Turkey. Turkey had said that Sweden allows members of Kurdish terror groups to operate in the country, CNN reported.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Brussels should clear the way for Turkey’s accession to the European Union before his country gives approval to Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, CNN reported.

Addressing a news conference, Erdogan said, “First, let’s clear Turkey’s way in the European Union, then let’s clear the way for Sweden, just as we paved the way for Finland,” according to CNN.

Erdogan stressed it was time to act on Turkey’s bid to become part of the EU, adding, “Turkey has been waiting at the gate of the European Union for over 50 years now” and “almost all NATO member countries are European member countries.” (ANI)

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