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Foreign Minister: Sweden could join Nato 'in a couple of weeks'

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Foreign Minister: Sweden could join Nato 'in a couple of weeks'
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström at a Nato meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels. Photo: Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP

Sweden's long journey towards Nato membership may reach its destination 'in a couple of weeks', Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said after speaking with his Turkish counterpart.

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Billström spoke with Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.

"He said that he hopes Sweden will become a member in a couple of weeks," Billström was quoted by Swedish newswire TT as saying.

Billström declined to confirm whether "a couple" meant two weeks exactly or longer.

"I don't define 'weeks'. I'm only saying what the Turkish foreign minister said. He said 'member'," said Billström.

Nato allies on Tuesday pressured Turkey to finally approve Sweden's stalled bid to join the military alliance.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Fidan that Sweden's application should be ratified "as soon as possible", his spokesman said.

"The strength and credibility of our alliance are at stake. We must not lose another day," said French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

Turkey and Hungary are the only Nato members yet to ratify Sweden's bid, more than 18 months after it applied for membership.

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The Turkish parliament started this month to debate Sweden's application to join after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched the process following a deal at a Nato summit in July.

Nato's other 29 allies, outside of Turkey and Hungary, had hoped to formally welcome Sweden into the alliance at the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

But the process is still stuck at the committee level in the Turkish parliament.

Sweden and Nordic neighbour Finland had dropped their long-standing policies of non-alignment and applied to join the US-led military alliance in the wake of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Finland became Nato's 31st member in April.   

Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said Helsinki was "so disappointed" that Sweden had not yet been allowed to follow suit.

"The membership of Sweden is highly crucial for the entire alliance and we hope that in the near future there will be further steps to be taken in that direction," she said.

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