NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to journalists as he arrives for a Foreign Affairs Council at the EU headquarters in Brussels on May 23, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
OSLO – Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said on Thursday that he is working hard to ensure Sweden's accession to the alliance is completed as soon as possible, and that he will soon travel to Türkiye to facilitate the process.
He made the remarks at a press conference after the conclusion of a two-day informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway's capital. The meeting was also attended by Sweden's foreign minister, but Türkiye's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was notably absent.
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Stoltenberg welcomed Sweden's new anti-terrorism laws that entered into force on Thursday. "That shows that Sweden has delivered on what they committed to do under the Trilateral Memorandum concluded last year in Madrid (by Finland, Sweden and Türkiye)," he said.
We will take decisions to further strengthen our deterrence and defense. We will agree a new Defense Investment Pledge, with 2% of GDP spent on defense as the minimum.
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the NATO
In March, Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to ask his country's Parliament to vote on Finland's NATO membership bid, but delayed that of Sweden, arguing that Türkiye still expected Sweden to extradite 120 members of what it considers terrorist groups before his country approaches the Swedish membership bid "positively."
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Stoltenberg called the informal meeting of foreign ministers an "opportunity to discuss key issues as we prepare for our summit in Vilnius (Lithuania) in July."
"(At the summit) we will take decisions to further strengthen our deterrence and defense. We will agree a new Defense Investment Pledge, with 2 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) spent on defense as the minimum," he said.
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He told reporters that the foreign ministers also discussed upgrading the existing NATO-Ukraine Commission to a new NATO-Ukraine Council.