STOCKHOLM, May 26 (Reuters) – Sweden still hopes to become a NATO member by the time the alliance’s summit is held in Vilnius in July, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Friday.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine convinced Sweden and Finland last year to abandon their policies of military non-alignment and seek the security of NATO’s collective defense commitment.
Finland joined NATO last month, but Sweden’s membership has been held back by objections from Turkey and Hungary.
“There is not going to be any plan B or anything like that. Plan B is plan A, that is, full integration into NATO, and for that the government and I are going to work until Vilnius,” he told the press. .
The Turks vote this Sunday in the second round of a hard-fought presidential election, in which the current president Tayyip Erdogan leads after the first vote.
Billstrom said he hoped the Turkish parliament would start the ratification process once the dust had settled.
“It is time for Turkey to start the ratification process and honor its part of the bargain,” Billstrom said.
In June last year, Sweden and Finland reached a three-way agreement in Madrid to address Turkey’s security concerns.
But Ankara has continued to delay the matter, claiming that Stockholm harbors members of militant groups it considers terrorist.
Hungary has also opposed Sweden’s request, citing grievances over Swedish criticism of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s record on democracy and the rule of law.
Billstrom said it was not clear what objections Budapest had to Sweden’s accession.
“Hungary gave its support at the Madrid summit last year for Sweden to receive guest status without any conditions,” he said. “Our firm opinion is that they should start ratification.” (Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Simon Johnson, Editing in Spanish by Manuel Farías)