President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Wednesday tempered the expectation that his expression of support this week for Sweden joining NATO meant that he would swiftly push the approval through the Turkish parliament.
In his first public comments on the issue since NATO announced his support for the proposal on Monday, Mr. Erdogan said that the final decision rested with the parliament and that Sweden needed to take more steps to win parliamentary support, without giving specifics. He also said parliament would not take up the matter until October, even though it is in session until July 27.
Mr. Erdogan’s remarks, hinting that Sweden’s accession may not be a done deal, were bound to disappoint many of his NATO allies, who had hoped that Mr. Erdogan’s use of the issue to win concessions for Turkey over the past year had finally come to an end. Mr. Erdogan also said that Sweden needed to continue working to address Turkey’s security concerns, suggesting that he was not yet ready to give up his leverage.
“The parliament is not in session for the next two months,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters in Vilnius, Lithuania, near the end of the annual NATO summit. “But our target is to finalize this matter as swiftly as possible.”
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. Turkey initially opposed allowing either country to join, accusing them of harboring dissidents that Turkey considers terrorists.
Mr. Erdogan eventually dropped his opposition to Finland’s accession, and it joined the alliance in April. But Turkey’s grievances against Sweden were much greater. Turkish officials accused Sweden of giving free rein to supporters of a Kurdish terrorist organization and to members of a religious group that Turkey has accused of plotting a failed coup against Mr. Erdogan in 2016.
To appease Turkey, Sweden has amended its constitution, hardened its antiterrorism laws, dropped an embargo on arms exports to Turkey and agreed to extradite a small number of people Turkey requested.
But Swedish courts have blocked other extraditions, and Swedish officials have said they cannot override their country’s freedom of expression laws to block public protests that have included burning the Quran. The protests have infuriated Turkey.
Then, on Monday, NATO announced that Turkey had dropped its objection to Sweden joining the alliance as part of a new agreement intended to let the alliance’s leaders project a stronger sense of unity against President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.