High time for Swedish NATO membership

High time for Swedish NATO membership

Published: Less than 2 hours ago

full screen US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken called the Swedish Foreign Minister after meeting with Turkey. Photo: Leah Millis/Pool via AP/TT

US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken underlines the importance of rapid Swedish NATO membership in a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Tobias Billström.

The US and the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs put extra weight behind the desire for Sweden and Finland to become members of the NATO military alliance as soon as possible.

Foreign Minister Blinken called, 13 minutes apart, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström (M) and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green Alliance) to “reiterate US support for Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership”, according to a statement from the US Foreign Ministry.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken underlined the need for all NATO countries to approve the Swedish and Finnish memberships as soon as possible.

“The United States urges remaining allies to quickly ratify their (Sweden and Finland’s) accession,” Price said in a statement.

The wording was pointedly directed, albeit unspoken, at Turkey and came the day after a tense meeting between Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu in Washington DC.

Turkey wants to buy American F-16 fighter jets, which the US has opposed. In a diplomatic comment after the meeting, the US made connections between a sale of the plan and an expansion of NATO. Turkey’s foreign minister in turn claimed in front of the Turkish media that the Swedish and Finnish membership was not part of the negotiations.

Thursday’s announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggests the opposite.