Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (right) and Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store addresses a press conference after a security meeting in Harpsund, Sweden, on Feb 22, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
STOCKHOLM – Talks between Sweden, Finland and Türkiye would resume in mid-March, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told local media Wednesday night, while his country with its Nordic neighbors vowed to strengthen defense cooperation.
"We have just confirmed this today," Kristersson told Swedish public television broadcaster SVT, without specifying the date for such talks.
Finland's President Sauli Niinisto, Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store on Wednesday discussed common security challenges and cooperation on foreign, security and defense policy issues in Harpsund
Türkiye has postponed a trilateral meeting with Sweden and Finland on their North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bids slated for February following the burning of a copy of the Quran in Stockholm.
Despite the US attempts to push for both countries' rapid accession into NATO, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday reaffirmed Ankara's demand for more efforts from Sweden over its security concerns.
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Ankara's stance on Finland's accession could be different and its membership could be ratified earlier, he said.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022 in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Their accession needs the approval of all member states of the military alliance.
Nordic defense cooperation 'to be strengthened'
In face of the conflict, Finland's President Sauli Niinisto, Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store met on Wednesday and discussed common security challenges and cooperation on foreign, security and defense policy issues in Harpsund, about 120 km southwest of Stockholm.
A Swedish government statement released on Wednesday read that the security situation had deteriorated due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
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"Norway, Finland and Sweden, together with our Nordic neighbors, have a shared responsibility to respond to security challenges in the region, including in our northern areas," the statement said, adding that as Sweden and Finland are on their way to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), "we are working in a more integrated way to strengthen security."
"We will continue to deepen our cooperation in large-scale exercises in the coming years. Our defense cooperation is closely coordinated with our Nordic neighbors and our close partners, including the United States and the United Kingdom," according to the statement.
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"Our countries' northernmost regions are more sparsely populated than other areas, and their climate and geography present particular challenges. At the same time, there is great potential for deeper cooperation in these areas, given their location and unique conditions for collaboration on the green transition, space and the extraction of rare earth metals."