Sweden’s Stalled NATO Bid, Explained

Officials from Finland, Sweden, Turkey, and NATO meeting in Ankara, Turkey on June 14, 2023. (Photo by Ahmet Okur/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dashed European leaders’ hopes last week that his May reelection would soften his opposition to Sweden’s accession into NATO. “Sweden has expectations,” Erdoğan said Wednesday after meetings between officials from Sweden, Turkey, Finland, and NATO in Ankara. “It doesn’t mean that we will comply with them.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Joe Biden now have their work cut out for them ahead of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month where the leaders hope to announce Sweden as their newest ally. Admitting the Nordic country will require the unanimous approval of all 31 member states, but convincing Turkey—and a recalcitrant Hungary—is an obstacle.

When did this saga begin?

As tanks rolled into Ukraine in February 2022, Sweden and Finland began to worry that their decades-long official position of “non-alignment” wouldn’t be a guarantor against Russian aggression. Three months later both countries launched joint applications for membership in the defensive alliance. 

Join to continue reading
Get started with a free account or join as a member for unlimited access to all of The Dispatch. Continue ALREADY HAVE AN ACCOUNT? SIGN IN