Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde signed the country's application for NATO membership this morning, officially confirming its intention to join the Alliance.
"This is a very big, very serious thing and we feel we have reached a decision that is the best for Sweden," Linde said.
"We do not know how long it will take (i.e. the accession process), but we estimate that it may take up to a year. "Within a week, our application will be submitted, along with that of Finland, and we will follow the NATO accession framework," she said in a statement.
Yesterday, Monday, Sweden announced its intention to join the Alliance ending two centuries of neutrality. However, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that he will veto both Finland's and Sweden's accession attributing his decision to anti-Turkish policies and support to Kurdish "terrorists" mainly in Stockholm, but also in Helsinki.
"Both countries do not have a clear attitude towards terrorist organizations. Sweden is a breeding ground for such organizations. "They even have friends of the terrorists in parliament," the Turkish president said during a joint news conference with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmajid Tabun, implying the armed, separatist Kurdish PKK party.
Tayyip Erdogan did not fail to include Greece in its 'evil demons'. "A Muslim can not go through a hole twice (that is, we will not make the same mistake twice). Earlier, Greece had left NATO, but the then administration (of Turkey) allowed it to return. "Leading NATO countries provide all kinds of support to Greece."
A few hours earlier, Sweden and Finland had announced that they were sending diplomatic missions to Turkey in order to find a common ground. But Tayyip Erdogan put a brake on them. "They will come, he says, on Monday. Are they coming to convince us? Let them not bother. We will not say yes to the accession of countries that impose sanctions on Turkey. "Because then NATO will cease to be a security organization and will be turned into a gathering place for terrorist representatives."
Turkish media have reported that Sweden and Finland have refused to repatriate 33 Turkish nationals accused by Ankara of links to "terrorism", namely the PKK and the network of Imam Fethullah Gulen. Ahead of Erdogan's remarks, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was optimistic that Ankara's concerns would be reassured and the two countries' accession would be completed soon.
In Moscow, Vladimir Putin said his country did not see an immediate threat from the two countries' NATO membership, but that if the Alliance's military infrastructure was expanded to Sweden and Finland, Moscow would respond. It is noted that the Swedish government has clarified that it does not want to install foreign bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.
[With information from CNN, REUTERS, A.P.]