LULEÅ, Sweden — Sweden has met all of its commitments to join NATO and expects to join the transatlantic military alliance by July, Tobias Billström, the country’s foreign minister, told POLITICO.
Speaking on the sidelines of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council summit, Billström said Stockholm had allayed any concerns of Turkey, an existing NATO member who blocked Sweden’s application over concerns about its support for groups Kurds that Ankara considers to be terrorist entities. Longtime leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan secured a new term as Turkish president on Sunday.
The changes Sweden made included updating the country’s terrorism legislation, which goes into effect June 1, to include lengthy prison sentences for people convicted of participating in extremist organizations in ways that promote such groups. This is a veiled reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has a following in Sweden but is banned in Turkey.
Billström said he now expects Sweden to join the alliance ahead of a NATO meeting in Vilnius on July 11.
“We delivered everything we said we would,” Billström said. « There is great expectation that we will be a member before Vilnius. »