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NATO

Nato chief to visit Turkey to discuss Sweden’s Nato bid

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg will visit Turkey on November 4th for talks on Finland and Sweden's nearly completed process to join the military alliance, a Turkish official told AFP on Friday.

Nato chief to visit Turkey to discuss Sweden's Nato bid
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference at the end of a two-day meeting of the alliance's Defence Ministers at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on October 13, 2022. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Stoltenberg is due to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has warned his country will not give a nod to the two countries’ memberships until “the promises they made were kept”.

Erdogan has accused Finland and Sweden in particular of providing shelter to outlawed Kurdish militants deemed “terrorists” by Ankara.

In June, Turkey, Sweden and Finland struck a deal which included provisions on extraditions and sharing of information.

The two Nordic nations earlier this year ditched their longstanding policies of non-alignment, asking to join Nato because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how it reshaped Europe’s security.

Stoltenberg on Wednesday announced plans to visit Turkey while praising the “close contact” Stockholm and Helsinki now had with Ankara “at all levels”. He said: “I will go to… Istanbul to meet with President Erdogan in the near future myself.”
Erdogan has also accepted a request from Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to visit Turkey as Stockholm struggles to overcome Ankara’s blocking of its Nato bid.

The Turkish official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the visit was likely to take place on November 8th. A spokeswoman for Kristersson could not confirm the date. “We’re working on it,” she said.

Erdogan said during a telephone call with the Swedish premier this week that Turkey “stands ready to advance the bilateral relations with the Swedish government in all areas”.

Nato accession is a priority for Sweden’s new right-wing government.

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MILITARY

Sweden doesn’t rule out sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Sweden does not 'exclude' sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, said Defence Minister Pål Jonsson.

Sweden doesn't rule out sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine

His comments come after Germany gave the greenlight for them to be given to Kyiv.

Following weeks of pressure from Ukraine and other allies, Berlin finally agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks, seen as among the best in the world.

The move opened the way for other European nations that operate Leopards to send tanks from their own fleets to Ukraine, further building up the combined-arms arsenal Kyiv needs to launch counter-offensives.

“I don’t exclude the possibility that we can do that in the future, working with other countries,” Jonson told AFP in an interview.

“We could possibly contribute in various ways. It could be related to logistics, maintenance, training, but also tanks as such.”

Sweden, which has broken with its doctrine of not delivering weapons to a country at war, last week pledged a major package of arms for Ukraine, including modern howitzers and armoured vehicles.

“Right now our focus is on delivering that rather substantial contribution,” Jonson said.

EXPLAINED:

On Wednesday he held talks with senior Nato officials in Brussels with Sweden’s bid to join the Western military alliance facing fresh problems from Turkey.

Ankara on Tuesday postponed accession talks with Sweden and Finland, lashing out at Stockholm over protests that included the burning of the Koran.

The decision further diminished the chances of Turkey ratifying their Nato bids before its May presidential and parliamentary elections.

Jonson insisted that it remained a top priority for the Swedish government to become a member of the alliance “as quickly as possible”.

“We’re respectful that this is of course a decision for Turkey and for its parliament,” he said.

Sweden dropped a long-standing policy of non-alignment last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked fears that the country was outside Nato’s collective security umbrella.

Jonson said Sweden already felt “considerably more secure” after receiving assurances from powers including the United States, Britain and France.

“Of course, being a full member of Nato will provide us with Article Five and the security guarantees, and that’s important of course as well,” he said.

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