Sweden's accession to NATO and Turkey's membership of the European Union cannot be linked together, Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) said on Monday in reaction to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's demand.
"NATO and the European Union are different organizations. We cannot treat the European Union and NATO in the same way. There are members of the European Union that are not in NATO and there are countries in NATO that are not members of the European Union," Tsahkna said.
The minister said Estonia does and will continue to support Turkey's bid to become a member of the EU. However, he also labeled Erdogan's comment a political move.
Tsahkna said he hoped a solution can be found at the NATO Vilnius summit, which takes place this week, and that positive news for Sweden will be forthcoming.
"Estonia and its allies are waiting for Turkey to give its final consent for Sweden to become a full NATO member. Sweden has fulfilled all the conditions for NATO membership. I very much hope that there is a way out of this. I am optimistic and I hope that there will be positive messages," said Tsahkna.
Estonia's ambassador to NATO Jüri Luik told ERR on Monday that Allies expect to reach an agreement with Turkey at the summit but, at the moment, there is no clarity.
"I know that there will be a whole series of high-level meetings with Erdogan tomorrow or the day after — [U.S. President Joe] Biden will meet, [NATO Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg and others. Work is ongoing. Let's hope that a solution will be found. The Turks have brought more and more issues to the table. It's quite difficult to imagine that it would be possible to link Sweden's NATO issue with Turkey's European Union issue," Luik said.
On Monday, Erdogan said he would support Sweden's accession to NATO if the EU reopens accession talks with his country.
Ankara's bid to join the EU has been frozen for years, the BBC reports.
Members voted to suspend talks on the issue in 2016 over Turkey's crackdown on opponents following a failed coup attempt in the same year.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright