NATO leaders to meet next week to reaffirm Erdogan’s promise to Zelenskyy; Turkey still holding off Sweden’s membership
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after a joint press conference at the Vahdettin Mansion in Istanbul on Saturday. Pic/PTI
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support early Saturday for Ukraine joining NATO, saying the war-torn country deserves to join the alliance. Erdogan made the comment at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who arrived in Turkey as part of a European tour to rally support for Ukraine’s entry into the military alliance after the war with Russia comes to an end.
NATO leaders meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week are expected to reaffirm that Ukraine will join their alliance one day. “There is no doubt that Ukraine deserves NATO membership,” Erdogan told reporters. His support for Ukraine comes as Turkey has been holding off giving its final approval to Sweden joining NATO, saying Stockholm is not effectively cracking down on Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara views as threats to its security.
Sweden, along with Finland, abandoned its decades-long neutrality and applied to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Turkey’s parliament ratified Finland’s membership earlier this year, after Ankara voiced satisfaction with its efforts to address Turkey’s security concerns. Erdogan also said Turkey was working toward extending a Turkish and UN-brokered grain deal that has paved the way for the shipment of more than 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
Russia has been reluctant to extend the deal, citing obstacles to its own exports of food and fertiliser. “We are continuing our work on the grain corridor issue. We are working to see how long we can extend it after July 17,” Erdogan said.
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