NATO chief says Sweden has taken “important steps” to meet Turkey’s demands

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made he remarks on Monday during a visit to Sweden.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson give a news conference after their meeting, in Harpsund, Sweden on June 13, 2022. (Henrik Montgomery / TT News Agency via Reuters)

STOCKHOLM — Sweden has taken important steps to meet Turkey’s demands for approving Stockholm’s NATO membership application, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday during a visit to Sweden.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the alliance last month, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Their applications have faced unexpected opposition from Turkey, which has been angered by what it deems is Swedish support of Kurdish militants and by a previous decision to withdraw arms export licenses to Turkey.

“I welcome that Sweden has already started to change its counter-terrorism legislation and that Sweden will ensure that the legal framework for arms export will reflect the future status as a NATO member with new commitments to allies,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

“These are two important steps to address concerns that Turkey has raised.”

Andersson said Sweden had changed its terrorism laws and was in the process of further tightening.

“From the first of July we will also have even stronger legislation when it comes to the fight against terrorism. So here there are no questions about how strongly Sweden sees (on) terrorism and that we are willing to contribute to the fight against terrorism,” she said.

Stoltenberg also said the aim was to have Sweden and Finland join NATO “as soon as possible” and that it was inconceivable that NATO allies would not come to Sweden’s defense if it were attacked.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Simon Johnson.