Sweden and Finland could join NATO in 2023. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said this on Sunday. But Turkey, which has been blocking the accession of Sweden and Finland since May, is imposing demands on Sweden that it “cannot and does not want to meet”. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said this on Sunday at a conference on defense and security.

    NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg expects both countries to join this year, but does not want to be pinned down to a date. “It is a sovereign decision of the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments, which have not yet ratified the accession,” said Stoltenberg. Hungary and especially Turkey have been blocking the accession of both countries since May.

    Stoltenberg refers to the difficult negotiations that have taken place and to the memorandum concluded between Turkey, Finland and Sweden containing agreements on arms exports and counter-terrorism. “Finland and Sweden have respected those agreements and are clearly committed to working with Turkey on those issues in the longer term. That is why the time has come to complete the accession process and to ratify the accession protocol,” says Stoltenberg.

    “We are convinced that Turkey will make a decision. We just don’t know when,” Kristersson said on Sunday. “The decision is in the hands of Turkey,” said the Swedish prime minister.

    At the end of December, Ankara spoke of “positive steps” in the file, but demanded “other important steps”. Those statements followed a few days after the Swedish Supreme Court refused to extradite journalist Bülent Kenes.