Biden, Erdoğan To Meet Today As Türkiye Greenlights Sweden's NATO Membership
U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today while the two attend the NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports from the White House.
The move came as Erdoğan on Monday agreed to ratify Sweden’s ascension protocols to the military alliance. Biden welcomed the news, which will likely compel Hungary, the final country yet to sign off on Sweden’s bid.
"I welcome the statement issued by Türkiye, Sweden and the NATO Secretary General this evening, including the commitment by President Erdoğan to transmit the Accession Protocol for Sweden to Türkiye’s Grand National Assembly for swift ratification," the U.S. President noted in a statement.
He went on to add, "I stand ready to work with President Erdoğan and Türkiye 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."
Biden, who met last week with PM Kristersson in Washington early last week, has lobbied Erdoğan hard in recent days, as he had hoped to win Sweden’s entry to NATO during today's summit.
Erdoğan, however, has expressed serious concerns about Sweden’s position on the PKK. On Monday, the Turkish president stressed Brussels should also clear the path for Ankara’s accession to the European Union, before he approves Sweden’s NATO bid. Ankara has formally sought inclusion into the EU since 1987, when it applied to the EU’s predecessor. Negotiations over the years have stalled.
Back in Washington, the State Department made it clear on Monday that they did not believe Turkey’s quest for admission into the EU should impede Sweden’s accession to NATO.
“The United States has for a number of years supported Turkey's EU aspirations, and we continue to do so,” Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in response to TURAN's questions, adding that it was ultimately up to the EU and Turkey.
“However, we do not believe that it should be an impediment to Sweden's accession to NATO," Miller told a daily press briefing.
According to the spokesperson, Secretary Antony Blinken “made that point” in his conversations with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan over the past several days. The two have spoken three times in the past few days.
“We continue to press the case that Sweden has taken a number of steps to address the concerns that Turkey raised, and we believe that it is time for Turkey to support Sweden's NATO accession,” Miller said.
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