US Still Expects Sweden to Join NATO This July Despite Erdogan’s Comments

Erdogan has said Turkey won't ratify Sweden's NATO membership before the Vilnius summit

The US ambassador to Turkey expects Sweden to become a NATO member by the Vilnius summit that will be held this July despite recent comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We hope Sweden can become a member of NATO soon,” Ambassador Jeffry Flake told CNBC on Friday. “We fully expect and hope that by the time Vilnius comes … that Sweden will be a member.”

A few days earlier, Erdogan said that Sweden should not expect to become a NATO member by the Vilnius summit, saying the Swedish government must do more to curb anti-Turkish protests.

Flake said that Stockholm has taken a number of steps to address Ankara’s security concerns, but the measures, which include a new anti-terror law, have sparked anti-Turkish and anti-NATO protests in Sweden.

Turkey’s main gripe with Sweden is its alleged support for the PKK, a Turkish militant group Ankara and many Western countries consider a terrorist organization. PKK flags were spotted at the demonstrations in Sweden that Erdogan wants Stockholm to crack down on.

Hungary still hasn’t approved Sweden’s NATO bid and is facing pressure from the US over the delay. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) has placed a hold on the sale of HIMARS rocket systems to Hungary.

“For some time now, I have directly expressed my concerns to the Hungarian government regarding its refusal to move forward a vote for Sweden to join NATO,” Risch said in a statement. “The fact that it is now June and still not done, I decided that the sale of new US military equipment to Hungary will be on hold. Hungary should take the actions necessary to allow Sweden into the alliance, and soon.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.