Türkiye's steps on Sweden and migration will be closely watched by the world in the next NATO summit

The next NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital is deemed one of the most critical in recent years by experts. Vilnius meeting will include vital topics such as the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and Sweden’s application to the Alliance. Türkiye will play a central role in this meeting as pressure from allies keeps mounting.

Hopes for Swedish accession have dimmed out as the date of the Vilnius summit closes in.

Other members of the Transatlantic Alliance aim to increase pressure on Ankara to finalize Stockholm’s process as soon as possible.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently spoke to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the phone, emphasizing the need for a more potent NATO.

White House Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also pointed out the urgency of Sweden’s entry as soon as possible during his speech with Akif Çağatay Kılıç, Foreign Policy Advisor to President Erdoğan.

Current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been increasing his efforts before the last turn for the summit.

He has called on an emergency meeting scheduled for tomorrow, July 6, with the senior officials of Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland.

Speaking to reporters, Stoltenberg said, “Now is the time to welcome Sweden as a full member of NATO.”

Ex-diplomat Hasan Göğüş interpreted the urgent meeting call from Stoltenberg as a “pressure mechanism of multilateral diplomacy” in a writing he penned for T24.

French President Emmanuel Macron made similar remarks calling on Ankara and Budapest, saying, “It’s now time ... to allow Sweden to attend the Vilnius summit as an ally. Now is the time to make decisions that will ensure the unity and stability of the continent.”

Turkish leaders are not on the same page as their counterparts, however. The novel events in Sweden have angered the Muslim world and, consequently, Türkiye.

The disrespect towards the Holy Qur’an has been repeated in Sweden by an Iraqi citizen’s alone action of burning the Qur’an.

Actions like this attract reactions because the situation relates to the Swedish security system.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told a press conference with Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister that since such actions can take place under the protection of the Swedish state, it is unclear whether admitting Sweden into NATO would bring more security challenges to the organization.

President Erdoğan, speaking after a Cabinet meeting, said, “We have made it clear that the determined fight against terrorist organizations and Islamophobia are our red line. Everyone must accept that Turkey’s friendship cannot be won by supporting terrorism or making space for terrorists,” indicating that Stockholm is still not following their promises.

President Erdoğan also highlighted during his meeting with Olaf Scholz that terror organizations such as PKK/YPG can still recruit, find financing, and hold demonstrations in Sweden - an unacceptable situation for Türkiye.

The Swedish government made promises to clear the main fault lines between the countries so as to enter the alliance smoothly.

Türkiye expresses that Stockholm’s entry will not be possible before the guarantees and reality meet.

The vile attack against the Holy Qur’an also demolished Sweden’s efforts to satisfy Ankara’s concerns, damaging Stockholm’s position once again.


The Vilnius summit has the potential to help build up relations between Türkiye and Greece, mainly due to migration issues.

Recently a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized in the Greek Aegean Sea, causing scores to lose their lives. This situation also gave birth to a backlash of protests and inquisitions.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has recently been pursuing a collaboration with Ankara on the migration crisis.

The two leaders will meet during the summit. Greek Prime Minister said he hopes the meeting will “be an opportunity to redefine the framework of Greek-Turkish relations and chart a path toward rapprochement.”

Stressing that Türkiye and Greece should be allies, Mitsotakis said, “We were in contact before. It is good that these contacts are frequent. If it also wants to, we can show that Türkiye is a unique ally [in fighting migration issue].”

Mitsotakis also accentuated that the EU should fund Türkiye in the fight against migration.

The world will closely watch Türkiye’s steps in the upcoming summit. European border issues, namely Sweden’s application and migration, will be central to discussions.

Progressing Stockholm’s accession talks will be a challenge tomorrow in Brussels and next week in Vilnius. Dialogs to control irregular migration can advance in a better light.

Mansur Ali Bilgiç - 5/7/2023