It is difficult, almost impossible, but Sweden does not lose hope. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson visited NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday and, after meeting with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and listening to reports from his diplomats, believes that a miracle is still possible and that the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lift the veto for the start of accession negotiations for Sweden and Finland.

“Turkey has some concerns and our wish and goal is to resolve them. I spoke last Saturday with President Erdogan and it was a constructive conversation. Emissaries from the three countries, including Finland, have met today in another round here at NATO and my hope is that the dialogue can be concluded soon, ideally before the Summit”, explained the prime minister.

The messages from Brussels in recent weeks were not positive and still the main feeling this Monday is that there would be no time. Turkey vetoes the entry of both countries not because it opposes itself, but because it now has a winning hand to press on the issues that have long concerned it: support for the PKK, the Kurdish party, in the country; the bans on arms exports to Turkey or the financing of Kurdish associations, which Ankara considers terrorists. In addition to numerous extradition requests that Stockholm has not accepted to date.

Finland is a stone guest, because although there were minor issues, they are practically resolved from the beginning. But Erdogan’s refusal has been maintained since May and in fact the rhetoric has been growing, since any pressure on this point seems to give him good results domestically and electorally. The Alliance, led by the US, is pressing hard, but all parties understand that in the end it will be a question of finding a compromise acceptable to all parties. The blockade will not be perpetual, but those who are most in a hurry are those who have exposed themselves asking for entry, angering Moscow, and now they are not under the umbrella of common defense.

Spain has been ‘dreaming’ for some time about being able to witness a last-minute agreement at the highest level. It would be a unique photo and a great endorsement of a summit that in itself is loaded with important issues and decisions. Erdogan, Andersson and Sauli Niinisto will meet behind closed doors before the start of the Summit and the honorary dinner in Madrid, to which they are all invited by King Felipe VI. Stoltenberg, cautious, does not show signs of optimism, but he does not close the door and last Sunday he has reiterated to Ankara that clear efforts are being made to resolve his concerns. His chief of staff has traveled several times to meet with the government in Turkey and they see the window of opportunity.

For Sweden, the demands, or the Turkish blackmail, are also an internal problem. The Executive was on the brink of collapse just a few days ago due to a motion of confidence in the Foreign Minister. Andersson, from Brussels, has tried to convince the Turks that steps are being taken in the direction they want, but there is more cosmetic at the moment than concrete solutions, since the country can accept some changes in its arms sales policy , perhaps, but not in some of the extraditions that are requested, and that go against local legislation and community regulations.

“Sweden condemns terrorism in the strongest terms and is fully committed to the fight against all its manifestations and forms, and as allies we would be fully engaged in NATO’s anti-terrorist policy actively. On the PKK the position is very clear : If the EU considers it a terrorist organization, it will also be a terrorist organization in Sweden. In recent years, laws on financing have been strengthened and we are doing the biggest review in 30 years of the framework, and the new law will come into force on July 1 with more scope and more penalties,” said the prime minister.

“In addition, constitutional amendments are being presented to criminalize participation in terrorist organizations. Sweden will continue with its partners in the fight against terrorism and this will have implications for material exports to all allies. Solidarity will be included in the regulatory framework. One of the issues that concerns Turkey is the response to extraditions. They are being reviewed by our legal system according to European conventions, we are not and will not be sanctuaries for terrorists nor will we protect dangerous people. Hopefully the talks pave the way for requests for accession”, he added in his appearance.

The discourse of the Nordic countries, and of the Secretary General, is that the entry of both is not only beneficial for them, but for common security. “The requests for entry are historic, and their participation would strengthen transatlantic security at the most delicate moment since the Second World War. All the allies agree on the open door policy and they all believe that NATO would be stronger”, Stoltenberg said.

“In Sweden we are carrying out the greatest effort since the 1950s and we will be at 2% of GDP in defense spending at the latest in 2028. We are reinforcing security, reactivating military service, accelerating equipment purchases and reinforcing capabilities of defense and intelligence. But it is not enough. With Sweden and Finland as members, security would be strengthened for all, we would be suppliers and we are fully committed to the Washington Treaty and all the doctrine. Our vulnerabilities to external threats increase until we are members. That result would be good news for all of NATO. The security of everyone, including Turkey, will be better guaranteed,” the Swedish leader said.

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