Baerbock against Ukraine’s rapid entry into NATO

Almost all countries agree that Sweden should soon become a member of NATO. It's different in Ukraine. Foreign Minister Baerbock opposed accession negotiations "in the middle of a war".

Sweden’s foreign minister is present in Oslo as if he were already a member of the NATO foreign ministers’ club. But he’s not a member yet. Because Sweden’s NATO entry is still blocked by two other NATO countries: Turkey and Hungary.

Before entering the negotiations, Thomas Billström expressed his irritation in Oslo: “It’s time for Turkey and Hungary to start ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.”

Stoltenberg announced a trip to Ankara

In fact, Sweden has long since fulfilled all the conditions for NATO membership – but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bothered by Sweden’s liberal treatment of Kurdish activists. Possibly the chances of changing Erdogan’s mind are better now – after his re-election. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg seems to be counting on it.

He announced in Oslo that he wanted to travel to Ankara at short notice to promote Sweden’s entry into NATO. If Erdogan changes course, that is the hope at NATO, then Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban would probably also give up his blockade.

The goal remains that Sweden can be welcomed at the NATO summit in Lithuania in mid-June as the 32nd member of the alliance. Today is the last opportunity for NATO foreign ministers to prepare for the big summit – because another candidate for accession is expected there: Ukrainian President Selenskyj.

Disagreement on Ukraine joining NATO

There is still no consensus – some Eastern European countries want Ukraine to receive clear commitments for membership – not sometime in the distant future, but as soon as possible. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock sees it differently – today she openly addressed the limits of Ukraine’s rapid admission: “Therefore, what NATO has always made clear, the open-door policy applies. At the same time, it is also clear that we are not in the middle of a war to talk about a newer membership.”

Like Germany, the other large Western European NATO countries warn against too high expectations in Ukraine. The USA and France see it in a similar way to the federal government, they don’t want quick full membership, but instead want to give security guarantees for Ukraine.

France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said she would work to ensure that such security guarantees are discussed now for the post-war period.

More investment in defense?

In Oslo, NATO’s finances will also be discussed. All member countries should take two percent of their gross domestic product and invest in the military – that was the goal so far, but only a quarter of the member countries manage to do that.

Nevertheless, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg wants to go further. The two percent shouldn’t be viewed as a limit, he says, but as the minimum, a floor for defense investment.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised to aim for the two percent target. For the federal budget, it would mean a permanent increase in annual defense spending by an amount in the double-digit billions.

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