February, 22, 2024
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Turkey Approves Sweden's NATO Entry, Hungary Awaits

Turkey Approves Sweden’s NATO Entry, Hungary Awaits

Infostani International: In a pivotal move, Turkey’s Parliament approved Sweden’s NATO membership bid on Tuesday, overcoming a 20-month delay. The 287-55 vote in favor marks a crucial step in expanding the alliance amid security concerns sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision, long-awaited, involved diplomatic negotiations and concessions, highlighting the complexities of NATO enlargement.

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Turkey Parliament Approves Sweden’s NATO Membership Bid, Clearing Key Hurdle for Alliance Expansion

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Parliament granted approval to Sweden’s NATO membership bid, overcoming a major obstacle in the expansion of the Western military alliance, a process delayed for 20 months. In a vote of 287-55, the Turkish general assembly, dominated by President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling alliance, endorsed Sweden’s application made in 2022. The move aimed to strengthen Sweden’s security in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Approval from all NATO members is required for countries seeking to join the alliance. In 2022, when Sweden and Finland sought membership, Turkey raised objections to what it deemed as the two countries’ protection of groups classified as terrorists. While Finland’s membership was endorsed in April last year, Turkey, along with Hungary, had kept Sweden waiting.

“We support NATO enlargement to improve the alliance’s deterrence efforts… We hope Finland and Sweden’s attitude towards fighting terrorism sets an example for our other allies,” stated Fuat Oktay, head of parliament’s foreign affairs commission and a ruling AK Party member during the debate.

Turkey Approves Sweden's NATO Entry, Hungary Awaits
Turkey approves Sweden’s NATO membership bid after 20-month delay

Turkish Parliament’s Approval of Sweden’s NATO Bid Sparks Global Responses and Diplomatic Moves

The Turkish Parliament’s decision received appreciation from US Ambassador Jeff Flake, who emphasized Turkey’s commitment to the NATO Alliance. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom also welcomed the approval, expressing anticipation for President Erdogan to sign the ratification document.

Erdogan is expected to sign the legislation soon, leaving Hungary as the only member state yet to approve Sweden’s accession. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, with friendly ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, invited his Swedish counterpart for negotiations on joining the bloc.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey’s move and urged Hungary to complete its national ratification. Both Turkey and Hungary maintain closer relations with Russia than other NATO members.

Turkey’s delays in approving Sweden’s bid led to frustration among Western allies but allowed Ankara to secure concessions. Ankara pushed for a tougher stance from Stockholm on local members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist group by the EU and the US. In response, Sweden introduced an anti-terrorism bill criminalizing membership in terrorist organizations.

Turkey’s Parliamentary Endorsement of Sweden’s NATO Bid: Political Support, Controversies, and Linkage to F-16 Fighter Jet Sales

In Parliament, Oktay stated that Erdogan’s AK Party endorsed Sweden’s NATO bid following positive steps in fighting terrorism. The AKP’s nationalist allies MHP and the main opposition CHP also supported Sweden’s bid, while opposition nationalist, Islamist, and leftist parties rejected it, with four MPs abstaining.

Erdogan, who submitted Sweden’s bid to Parliament in October, linked the ratification to US approval of F-16 fighter jet sales to Turkey. The White House supports the sale, and analysts anticipate a swift deal following Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s bid, although no clear time frame for US Congress approval has been specified.