Religion is not part of agreement with Turkey on NATO, Swedish Foreign Ministry said

Swedish Foreign Minister Billström: Religion is not part of agreement with Turkey on NATO

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said that religious issues are not part of the trilateral memorandum on NATO membership, also signed by Turkey and Finland, Radio Sweden reported.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that Turkey sees no decisive steps from Sweden to fulfill Ankara’s NATO membership commitments. On the same day, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara views Finland’s membership in NATO positively, while Sweden does not.

“In response to recent comments from Turkey, Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said Sweden would not compromise on freedom of speech and the rule of law, and that religion was not part of the agreement signed by the three countries paving the way for Sweden and Finland to join NATO,” the radio station said.

Finland and Sweden, against the backdrop of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, submitted applications to the NATO secretary general on May 18, 2022, to join the alliance. So far, only two countries out of 30 – Hungary and Turkey – have not ratified Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to NATO. Turkey may make a decision on Finland’s NATO membership that would “shock” Sweden, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier.

Earlier Tobias Billström, head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, stated that against the background of the Quran burning events the process of joining NATO was suspended. However he expressed the hope that agreement with Ankara would be reached at the summit of the Foreign Ministries of the alliance countries in Vilnius in July. A source in Ankara told RIA Novosti that the trilateral mechanism of the Swedish and Finnish NATO membership processes was suspended for an indefinite period at the request of the Turkish side.

Earlier Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto allowed continuing the ratification procedure of the country’s application to the North Atlantic Alliance separately from Sweden, but then took back his words. For his part, Cavusoglu said that Turkey had not received a proposal from Finland on a separate application for NATO membership from Sweden.

Leave a Reply