Ankara, Turkey – December 26, 2023
Turkey’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee approved Sweden’s NATO membership bid on Tuesday, signaling a crucial advancement toward the Nordic country’s potential inclusion in the Western military alliance.
The decision paves the way for the final stage in Turkey’s legislative process, pending approval of Sweden’s accession protocol in the general assembly, with the date yet to be set. Delays in Turkey’s ratification, attributed to concerns about Sweden’s stance on security threats, including Kurdish militants and 2016 coup-related individuals, have persisted for over a year.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström expressed optimism on social media, anticipating the parliamentary vote and looking forward to NATO membership. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the move, emphasizing the importance of swift ratifications by Turkey and Hungary, the latter also impeding Sweden’s NATO bid due to alleged misinformation about Hungary’s democracy.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently linked Sweden’s NATO approval to U.S. Congress endorsement of Turkey’s F-16 fighter jet request and called for the lifting of arms embargoes by NATO allies, facing strong opposition in the U.S. Congress.
The Turkish parliamentary committee’s vote in favor of Sweden’s NATO application comes after discussions initiated last month were adjourned for clarification on certain issues. Sweden, along with Finland, shifted from military nonalignment to seeking NATO protection following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
NATO expansion requires unanimous approval, with Turkey and Hungary currently withholding consent, causing frustration among eager allies awaiting Sweden and Finland’s inclusion.