Sweden’s application to join NATO received approval from Turkey’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee on Tuesday, a significant step toward the Nordic nation’s potential NATO membership
The next step involves the approval of Sweden’s accession protocol in the Turkish parliament’s general assembly, marking the final stage in Turkey’s legislative process.
The date for this crucial decision remains pending.
Turkey, a NATO member, had previously postponed ratifying Sweden’s membership, expressing concerns about the latter’s approach to entities considered security threats by Ankara, including Kurdish militants and individuals linked to a 2016 coup attempt.
The foreign affairs committee initially deliberated on Sweden’s NATO membership last month but faced a postponement motion from legislators aligned with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party.
The reason cited was the need for more clarity on certain issues and the assertion that negotiations hadn’t matured sufficiently.
Upon resumption, the committee, with a substantial majority, voted in favor of Sweden’s NATO application.
Prior to the vote, Turkey’s deputy foreign affairs minister, Burak Akcapar, highlighted Sweden’s efforts to meet Turkish demands, acknowledging positive steps such as lifting restrictions on defense industry sales and amending anti-terrorism laws.
Akcapar emphasized the ongoing monitoring of Sweden’s progress, describing the process as requiring long-term and consistent effort.
NATO Welcomes Sweden Amid Diplomatic Tensions
Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Tobias Billström welcomed the committee’s decision, expressing anticipation for the parliamentary vote and the prospect of NATO membership.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the development, urging Turkey and Hungary to complete their ratifications promptly.
Hungary, like Turkey, has raised concerns about Sweden’s bid, accusing Swedish politicians of spreading falsehoods about Hungary’s democracy.
Turkey’s Erdogan had previously linked Sweden’s NATO membership ratification to US Congress approval of Turkey’s request to acquire F-16 fighter jets and upgrade its existing fleet.
Erdogan also called on NATO allies, including Canada, to lift arms embargoes on Turkey, a move that faces opposition in the US Congress.
Sweden and Finland shifted from their traditional military non-alignment stance to seek NATO protection following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Finland joined NATO earlier, becoming the 31st member, after Turkey’s parliamentary approval of its bid.
NATO expansion requires unanimous agreement from existing members, with Turkey and Hungary remaining as the only countries posing delays, causing frustration among other NATO allies eager to welcome Sweden and Finland.
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