NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said that Sweden and Finland's applications to join the alliance will be fast-tracked. Explaining the decision behind her country's intention to become a member, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said abandoning decades of political neutrality was a direct result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
During a speech to Sweden's parliament, Andersson said that joining NATO would not be without consequences.
However since any new incorporation to NATO requires approval by all thirty members of the alliance, a team of Swedish diplomats will be heading to Turkey for talks on resolving Ankara's objections, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said on Monday.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey did not have a positive opinion about Finland and Sweden's ambitions to join the military alliance. Erdogan accused both countries of harboring terrorist organizations.
On Monday, the Turkish strongman went further during a news conference, telling reporters that Sweden and Finland should not bother sending delegations to Ankara to win approval for their NATO bids.
He went on to allege that the Nordic democracies seat terrorists in their parliaments, and called both countries hatcheries for terrorism. Sweden has a long history of granting residence or even political asylum to Kurds from Turkey fleeing decades of internal conflict.
Besides Turkey has tried to play a role as mediator during the war in Ukraine by hosting negotiations and maintaining ties with Moscow, Ukraine, and the West. Although Ankara has not joined sanctions on Russia, it has also expressed its opposition to the invasion and supplied military drones to Ukraine.
Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan's chief foreign policy advisor, told Reuters news agency on Monday that Turkey is trying to maintain a balanced position and wants to be in a position to be able to speak to the Russian side as well as to the Ukrainian side.