VILNIUS – Champagne will have to wait.
Sweden scored a major victory on its path to NATO this week when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan he agreed sending the Stockholm proposal to be approved by the parliament in Ankara.
But in the capital of Lithuania, where NATO leaders have gathered for a two-day meeting, the Swedish delegation is celebrating.
“We thought Champagne would wait until the confirmations were available,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told POLITICO in an interview Tuesday with his commemorative team. “So yesterday we gathered in the conference room and smiled together.”
When this approval is done, the Swedish leader said, “maybe we will have Champagne.”
Sweden applied for NATO membership in 2022 along with Finland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But although he introduced constitutional changes to address Turkey’s concerns about Kurdish groups, Stockholm’s bid stalled as it refused to challenge Turkey and Hungary.
As part of the agreement announced on Monday, Ankara and Stockholm agreed to establish a new bilateral security agreement and increase economic cooperation.
“We are committed over time,” said the prime minister, “to fight terrorism, to fight organized crime, to do things together.”
In return for Sweden’s commitment, Erdoğan agreed to publish his protocol “and work together with the Assembly to confirm it,” according to the shared knowledge published on Monday.
The move was hailed as a major political victory for the alliance.
Asked if he had received an assurance from Erdoğan that the approval would be done in time, the Swedish prime minister expressed confidence in the matter but admitted that the ball is in the Turkish parliament’s court.
“Laws and parliaments – they have to decide for themselves,” Kristersson said.
“Obviously, I believe that this will happen,” emphasized the Swedish leader, adding that “you have to respect the parliamentarians” and “I think we did something yesterday.”
Before the talks on Monday, Erdoğan unexpectedly seems to be related Sweden’s NATO bid and Turkey’s stalled bid for EU membership.
And in the agreement later that day, Sweden committed to “promptly support efforts to strengthen the reintegration of Türkiye into the EU, including reforming the EU-Türkiye Customs Union and visa liberalization.”
But when asked about the move, Sweden’s prime minister said it was part of a long-standing commitment to support Ankara.
“This was not a surprise for us,” he said, noting that “Sweden has been a strong supporter of EU-Türkiye cooperation since a long time ago.”
But, the Prime Minister added, “Of course, [the] The NATO summit obviously cannot make any decisions regarding the EU and vice versa. “