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    STOCKHOLM (dpa-AFX) – According to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Sweden’s NATO membership is still opposed by Turkey’s demands on his country. “Turkey has confirmed that we have done what we promised them,” Kristersson said at a security and defense conference in Sälen, western Sweden, on Sunday. “But they also say that they have demands that we cannot and do not want to meet. And now the decision lies with Turkey.” He remains convinced that Turkey will agree to Sweden’s accession. “We just don’t know when.”

    As a member of the defense alliance, Sweden is willing, among other things, to take part in NATO’s joint missile defense system and in air patrols over the Baltic States, the Black Sea and Iceland, Kristersson said in his speech.

    Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in May 2022 as part of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said at the security conference in Sälen that they would wait for Sweden. “We submitted the NATO application together, and we will complete the process together,” Haavisto said. “Sweden is our best friend and partner. Nor would it be in Finland’s interest to join without Sweden.” Sweden and Finland together formed a strategic military unit.

    NATO member Turkey is blocking the accession of the Nordic countries, citing Sweden’s alleged support of “terrorist organizations” such as the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK. The country had made a number of demands as a condition for the ratification of the so-called accession protocols. Among other things, Turkey is demanding a stronger fight against “terrorism” and the extradition of dozens of people.

    Shortly before Christmas, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the implementation of the agreements was “not halfway there.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on the other hand, said at the conference in Sweden on Sunday: “I’m sure Turkey will ratify the membership of Sweden and Finland and I think that should happen as soon as possible. But I don’t want to speculate about it when exactly Turkey will do that.” Stoltenberg emphasized that the two Nordic countries are already taking part in almost all NATO meetings and are safer than they were before they applied. In addition to Turkey’s approval of NATO’s northern expansion, Hungary’s is also pending./wbj/DP/nas