Secretary General congratulates President Erdogan on re-election, looks forward to finalising Sweden’s NATO membership

  • 04 Jun. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 04 Jun. 2023 16:04

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and members of his new government in Istanbul on Sunday (4 June 2023).

Calling Türkiye an important and highly valued Ally, Mr Stoltenberg praised Türkiye’s contributions of troops to NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, including reinforcements following the recent unrest in northern Kosovo. He also thanked Türkiye for contributing to NATO’s training for Iraqi forces, pre-assigning troops to the multinational battlegroup in Hungary, and providing strong support to Ukraine, including through leadership of the Black Sea grain initiative. 

The Secretary General congratulated President Erdogan on his re-election and on the high turnout among the Turkish people. They discussed a range of issues on the agenda for July’s NATO Summit in Vilnius, including support to Ukraine, work to bolster deterrence and defence, and the fight against terrorism. 

The two leaders also discussed Sweden’s bid for NATO membership. Mr Stoltenberg noted that Stockholm has taken significant, concrete steps to meet Türkiye’s concerns, including amending the Swedish constitution, ending its arms embargo, and stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation, including against the PKK. He further noted that important new anti-terrorism legislation has come into force in the past few days, and that Sweden has fulfilled its obligations. He said that it was difficult to see demonstrations against Türkiye and against NATO in Sweden, but that the organisers should not be allowed to succeed in their attempts to block counter-terrorism cooperation and stop Sweden from joining the Alliance. 

The Secretary General and President Erdogan agreed that the Permanent Joint Mechanism between Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden should meet again in the week beginning on 12 June. Mr Stoltenberg said he looked forward to finalising Sweden’s accession as soon as possible. 

On Saturday, the Secretary General attended President Erdogan’s inauguration ceremony at the presidential complex in Ankara, alongside dozens of other world leaders.