Pave way for Turkish EU membership then Sweden can join Nato, says Erdogan - GulfToday

Pave way for Turkish EU membership then Sweden can join Nato, says Erdogan


Recep Tayyip Erdogan poses for a picture at an event.

Gulf Today Report

EU chief Charles Michel and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on Monday to seek closer cooperation after the Turkish leader demanded a return to European Union membership talks.

The pair met in Vilnius on the eve of a Nato summit, after Erdogan declared that Turkey would not approve Sweden's bid to join the alliance without a revival of Ankara's EU ambitions.

In a tweet, Michel hailed a "good meeting", adding that they had "explored opportunities ahead to bring EU-Turkey cooperation back to the forefront and re-energise our relations."

Turkey has been a formal candidate to join the European Union since 2005, and an aspirant since long before that, but talks have long been stalled with little sign of life.

Separately, Nato member Turkey has been blocking Sweden's attempt to join the military alliance, accusing Stockholm of harbouring Kurdish activists accused by Ankara of terrorism.

On Monday, in a surprise move ahead of Tuesday's Nato summit, Erdogan linked the two diplomatic logjams, demanding that the Nato allies that are also EU members clear Turkey's path.

"First, open the way to Turkey's membership of the European Union, and then we will open it for Sweden, just as we had opened it for Finland," he said, before flying to Lithuania.

Once in Vilnius, Erdogan broke off talks with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg to hold an unplanned one-on-one with the EU's Michel — before then meeting Swedish premier Ulf Kristersson.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday said the majority of Nato members stood together with his country and the Vilnius summit must confirm that Ukraine is a de facto member of the military alliance.

"The majority of the Alliance stands firmly with us," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video message.

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