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Nato chief pushes Turkey to allow Sweden to join alliance

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Sweden has 'fulfilled its obligations' to Turkey to bolster its counter-terrorism laws, which should clear its path for membership in the alliance. 

After meeting with newly re-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Stoltenberg was asked if Sweden could still be admitted before the alliance’s mid-July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. “There’s still time to make that happen,” he told reporters.

The joint mechanism for Sweden, Finland and Turkey to discuss cooperation between the three countries will reconvene the week of June 12, he said.

“I look forward to finalising Sweden’s accession as soon as possible,” he added.

Finland joined the alliance in April even though the two Nordic countries had initially agreed to work on the accession process in lock-step.

Turkey has demanded Sweden take extra steps to crack down on the activity of Kurdish groups in their country, and has bristled at anti-Turkey protests held there.

On Sunday, hundreds of people, many of whom were flying flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, gathered in central Stockholm for a demonstration against Swedish Nato membership. The display comes after Erdoğan’s spokesperson, Fahrettin Altun, earlier this week demanded that Sweden should stop “PKK members” from demonstrating.

Public opinion in Sweden shifted rapidly in favour of joining Nato after Russia’s full-scale invasion, with 64% backing membership last fall, up from 29% a year earlier, according to an annual poll by the University of Gothenburg.

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