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23 Oct, 2023 18:35

Türkiye ready to approve fresh NATO expansion

Sweden’s accession must still be ratified by the Turkish Parliament and then approved by Hungary
Türkiye ready to approve fresh NATO expansion

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed Sweden's NATO accession protocol and sent it to the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye for ratification, his office confirmed in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday.

Sweden’s protocol must first be approved by the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and then the Grand National Assembly, where a simple majority vote is sufficient to pass. There is no set time frame in place for those votes, however. 

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson praised the move in a post on X, stating his country was “looking forward to being a NATO member.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pushed Erdogan to ratify Sweden’s accession to the bloc during its meeting earlier this month, reminding him he had agreed to send the matter to Parliament in July and that Sweden had held up its end of the agreement the two countries’ leaders had reached with Stoltenberg at that time.

In its quest to secure Türkiye’s approval for its membership bid, Sweden has amended its counterterrorism laws, resumed arms exports to Türkiye, and banned support for the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups Ankara considers terrorists.

However, Türkiye complained last month that Sweden was still not doing enough to combat terrorism and Islamophobia, specifically highlighting tolerance for Quran-burning during protests and claiming it has blocked most of its terrorism extradition requests.

Also last month, Erdogan demanded the US approve the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye as a condition for approving Sweden’s membership in NATO.

Ankara finally dropped its opposition after securing a promise from Washington that it would be allowed to buy 40 new F-16s and a pledge from Stockholm that it would help revive Türkiye’s moribund process of accession to the EU.

Should the Turkish Parliament approve, Hungary will be the only remaining obstacle between Stockholm and NATO membership. A July ratification vote in the Hungarian Parliament failed, as a boycott by the ruling Fidesz party left the session without enough votes to pass the measure despite an overwhelming majority of those present voting in favor.  

Sweden and Finland both applied to join NATO in May 2022, abandoning decades of military neutrality after Russia began its military operation in Ukraine. Finland received Türkiye’s approval earlier this year following similar legal and political concessions to those demanded of Sweden, and the country officially joined NATO in April.

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