Sweden “can count on the EU”, says Michel in Stockholm in the midst of tensions with Turkey – EURACTIV.com
European Council President Charles Michel visited Stockholm to meet with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Wednesday to discuss Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO applications in the midst of tensions with Turkey, the press agency TT has reported.
Although it has been a week since Finland and Sweden handed over their NATO applications to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkey continues to oppose accession for both.
“It comes at an important time for Europe. We respect and support your decision [to join NATO]. It will make Europe safer, Michel said at a press conference in Stockholm.
Andersson, for his part, said talks with Turkey were ongoing and that her staff would review Ankara’s list of demands and “clear up some ambiguities.”
“There is some uncertainty about the fact that we sell weapons and where our aid money goes,” she said, referring to Turkey’s demand that Sweden and Finland abandon the arms embargo imposed by the Nordic countries after Ankara’s invasion of Syria in 2018.
“We look forward to a positive solution to discussions between NATO allies,” Michel said.
He ended his speech by saying, “we are convinced that we must remain strong and united against Russian aggression. I know we can count on Sweden and Sweden can count on the European Union.”
On the same day, Finnish and Swedish delegations traveled to Ankara to meet with Turkish authorities to find a common ground ahead of the forthcoming NATO summit in June.
Issues such as Ukraine, security in Europe and the possibility of continuing to maintain EU unity with Russia as food and energy prices rise were on the agenda during Michel’s visit, which is expected to face a difficult task next week’s extraordinary summit in Brussels on 30-31 May.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has downplayed the prospect of getting the go-ahead for a new sixth sanctions package to freeze imports and phase out Russian oil, as there is currently no consensus among EU countries.