BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that he has called a meeting of senior officials from Turkey, Sweden and Finland on July 6 to try to overcome Turkish objections to Sweden joining the military organization.
The meeting is a last-ditch effort by Stoltenberg to have the Nordic country standing among NATO's ranks as a member at a major summit next month. It would be a highly symbolic moment and another indication of how Russia’s war in Ukraine is driving countries to join the Western alliance.
“The time is now to welcome Sweden as a full member of NATO,” Stoltenberg told reporters as he announced the date for the meeting. Foreign ministers, intelligence chiefs and security advisors from Turkey, Sweden and Finland, which joined NATO in April, will be taking part in the talks in Brussels.
NATO requires the unanimous approval of all members to expand. Turkey accuses Sweden of being too lenient on groups that Ankara says pose a security threat, including militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.
Fearing they might be targeted by Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland abandoned their traditional positions of military nonalignment to seek protection under NATO’s security umbrella.
Hungary is also delaying its approval of Sweden’s candidacy but has never clearly stated publicly what its concerns are. NATO officials expect that it will follow suit once Turkey lifts its objections.