ANKARA, June 1. /TASS/. Turkey is expected to make a decision on whether to ratify Sweden’s application to join NATO before the North Atlantic Alliance’s summit in July, a source told TASS on Thursday.
"Turkey’s main requirement has in fact been met: Sweden has enacted amendments to its anti-terrorism legislature, which have taken effect. So, in general, we can expect Ankara’s decision to be forthcoming before the start of the NATO summit on July 11. By now, it will be that much harder [for Ankara to continue] to resist it [giving Stockholm the green light]. At the same time, it is expected that the issue of selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey will also be resolved, and this, even though the discussion will be under the radar, is part and parcel of the entire issue of Sweden’s accession to the alliance," the source said.
According to the source, Turkey may still seek to drag things out a bit longer under the pretext of insisting on the to-the-letter fulfillment of its demands on Sweden, that is the extradition by Stockholm of individuals whom Ankara has deemed terrorists. "As for the F-16 jets, Turkey is still counting on a positive decision by the US. At some point, this issue should be settled," the source said. At the same time, he does not expect potential objections to Ankara obtaining F-16 jets from some of its non-NATO partners.
Turkey had earlier requested that the US provide 40 F-16 Block 70 fighter jets and 80 Block 70 kits to repair and upgrade its existing fleet of jets. Ankara announced plans to purchase F-16 jets after its expulsion from the F-35 production program following its purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia. The US Congress has thus far not approved the deal to provide Turkey with these airframes. In March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara could not ratify Sweden’s application for NATO membership as Stockholm was refusing to extradite 120 individuals suspected by the Turkish government of engaging in terrorist activities.
On May 30, White House Spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said that US President Joe Biden was not making Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession protocols a precondition for the supply of US-made F-16 jets to Ankara. However, on the same day, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet revealed details of a recent telephone conversation between Biden and Erdogan, in which the US leader purportedly acknowledged that the US Congress was still making the sale of F-16 jets to Ankara contingent on the latter’s approval of Sweden's NATO membership.