Turkey's parliament has approved Sweden's accession to NATO
A year and a half later, Turkey blocked Sweden from joining NATO – and the parliament in Ankara approved Stockholm's approval. However, that was not the last hurdle: Hungary also still had to ratify the step.
DTurkey's parliament has approved Sweden's accession to NATO. On Tuesday, 287 MPs voted for the merger protocol, 55 voted against it and four abstained. Approval shall take effect upon publication in the Official Gazette.
After months of delay, the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee gave the go-ahead in December. This will pave the way for a parliamentary vote.
The Swedish government welcomed the decision. “Today we are one step closer to full membership in NATO,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristerson said on the defense alliance's online platform.
Foreign Minister Tobias Billström welcomed the news from Ankara. “It's definitely good that the Turkish parliament has voted for it now,” he told SVT radio station. Now let's wait for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to sign and send the instrument of ratification. This should happen as soon as possible – not necessarily waiting for Parliament to do its part, said Billström.
The central government has also welcomed this move. “This is an important and correct decision. Sweden's upcoming accession, like Finland's accession, will further strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance as a whole,” said government spokesman Steffen Häbstreit. These accessions are a direct reaction to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. Central Government considers.”
Stoltenberg calls on Hungary to follow suit
Hungary is now a NATO member, pending ratification.
The government in Budapest accuses Stockholm of a “degrading” policy and demands more “respect” from the Swedes. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Hungary to follow suit following Turkey's ratification. “I welcome the vote by Turkey's Grand National Assembly to recognize Sweden's membership in NATO,” Stoltenberg said. He now intends to complete Hungary's national recognition as quickly as possible.
“All NATO allies worked in Vilnius to invite Sweden to join our alliance, and Sweden has fulfilled its obligations,” Stoltenberg said, referring to a NATO summit last summer. Sweden's membership strengthens NATO and makes all member states safer.
Turkey justified its long reluctance by saying Swedish authorities were lax in treating suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Sweden then pledged, among other things, tougher action against the PKK.
In response to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, traditionally non-aligned Sweden applied for NATO membership along with its neighbor Finland in May last year. Finland was able to join the military alliance in April, while Sweden is still waiting.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to waive his veto last July. However, he raised new demands and confirmed Sweden's NATO membership contingent on the US approving the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. The U.S. government has not opposed a distribution, but Congress is currently blocking the sale.
Sweden's foreign minister has no reason to negotiate with Hungary
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán invited his Swedish counterpart Christensen to Budapest on Tuesday to talk about Sweden's desire to join NATO.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said there was no reason to negotiate with Hungary about Sweden's accession to NATO. At the NATO summit in Madrid in the summer of 2022, Hungary officially invited Sweden to become a NATO member — without reservations, Billström said. “So I see no reason to negotiate today.”
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