Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde signs the country's application for NATO membership at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Stockholm, Sweden on 17 May 2022Reuters

Sweden seeks to make constructive progress in talks with Turkey on Ankara’s objections to the Nordic country’s application to join the NATO defence alliance, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Friday.

Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but face opposition from Turkey, which accuses them of supporting and harbouring Kurdish militants and other groups it deems terrorists.

The objections caught Finnish, Swedish and many NATO officials by surprise and have dimmed prospects for rapid progress on the membership bids ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid later this month. Read full story

“Our application has received broad support among NATO members,” Linde said in a foreign policy declaration in the Swedish parliament. “Our ambition is to, in a constructive spirit, make progress on the questions that Turkey has raised.”

Linde added that there should be no doubts that Sweden stood together with allies against terrorism.

“We take Turkey’s security very seriously and we will as a NATO member contribute to security for all NATO members, Turkey included,” she told a news conference later in the day.

Sweden’s government survived a no-confidence vote on Tuesday with the help of a lawmaker whose demands for support for Kurds in Northern Syria could complicate its attempts to join NATO, all of whose members must approve any new entrants.

Ankara has also hit out at Swedish authorities for halting arms exports to Turkey in 2019 as the country launched a military operation in northern Syria.

While not referring directly to Turkey, Linde said Swedish membership in NATO could “change the conditions for arms exports within our national regulatory framework”.

The minister said talks between representatives of Sweden, Finland, Turkey and NATO were being held in a constructive spirit. Asked at the news conference in what way talks were constructive she replied: “They are not called off.”

She said she had been very surprised by Turkey’s objections, which were first voiced publicly shortly after applications were handed in.

“We had had talks (before) with Turkey where they had said that ‘we certainly have views on various things that we can discuss where we aren’t of the same opinion, but we welcome Sweden and Finland’,” she said.