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Sweden moves a step closer to NATO membership after Turkey’s parliamentary committee gives approval

by Andrew Wright
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NATO Membership Approval

Sweden has taken a significant step forward in its pursuit of NATO membership, with the approval from Turkey’s parliamentary committee. The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee granted consent to Sweden’s NATO bid, a move that brings the formerly nonaligned Nordic nation closer to becoming a member of the Western military alliance.

To complete the legislative process in Turkey, Sweden’s accession protocol must now receive approval in the Turkish parliament’s general assembly. However, as of now, no specific date has been set for this crucial step.

It’s worth noting that Turkey, as a NATO member, had previously delayed ratifying Sweden’s membership for over a year. This delay was attributed to concerns expressed by Ankara, particularly regarding what it perceived as Sweden’s leniency toward groups it deemed security threats, including Kurdish militants and individuals associated with a network blamed for a failed coup in 2016.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström welcomed the committee’s decision and expressed his anticipation for the next parliamentary vote on the matter, emphasizing Sweden’s eagerness to become a NATO member.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also hailed this development and highlighted the importance of Turkey and Hungary expediting their ratifications. He noted that Sweden’s membership would enhance NATO’s overall strength.

It’s worth mentioning that Hungary has also raised objections to Sweden’s NATO bid, alleging that Swedish politicians have made misleading statements about Hungary’s democracy. However, Hungary has not provided a timeline for when its ratification might occur.

Notably, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously linked Sweden’s NATO membership ratification to the U.S. Congress’ approval of Turkey’s request to acquire 40 new F-16 fighter jets and upgrade its existing fleet. Additionally, Erdogan called on Canada and other NATO allies to lift arms embargoes imposed on Turkey. It’s worth noting that there is opposition within the U.S. Congress to military sales to Turkey, despite support from the White House.

The discussion regarding Sweden’s NATO membership in the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee had started the previous month but was temporarily adjourned. This adjournment occurred after legislators from President Erdogan’s ruling party requested more clarification on certain issues and suggested that negotiations with Sweden had not matured adequately.

However, on Tuesday, a majority of committee members voted in favor of Sweden’s application to join NATO.

Sweden, along with Finland, departed from their longstanding policy of military nonalignment to seek protection under NATO’s security umbrella, a decision influenced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Finland successfully joined NATO in April, becoming the alliance’s 31st member, following Turkey’s parliamentary ratification of Finland’s bid.

It’s important to note that NATO expansion requires unanimous approval from all existing member states, and Turkey and Hungary are the two countries that have been holding out. These delays have caused frustration among other NATO allies, who swiftly accepted Sweden and Finland into the alliance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NATO Membership Approval

What is the significance of Turkey’s parliamentary committee approving Sweden’s NATO bid?

Turkey’s parliamentary committee approving Sweden’s NATO bid is a significant step toward Sweden’s potential membership in the Western military alliance. It indicates that Sweden is moving closer to becoming a NATO member, which has implications for the security and defense posture of both Sweden and NATO as a whole.

Why did Turkey delay the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership for over a year?

Turkey cited concerns over Sweden’s perceived leniency toward groups it considered security threats, such as Kurdish militants and individuals associated with a network blamed for a failed coup in 2016. These concerns led to the delay in ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.

What are the next steps for Sweden’s NATO membership?

The next crucial step is for Sweden’s accession protocol to receive approval in the Turkish parliament’s general assembly. However, as of now, no specific date has been set for this final legislative process in Turkey.

Why has Hungary also stalled Sweden’s NATO bid?

Hungary has alleged that Swedish politicians have made misleading statements about the condition of Hungary’s democracy. This has led to Hungary’s objections and delays in ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership.

How does this development affect NATO as a whole?

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has welcomed the approval of Sweden’s NATO bid, emphasizing that Sweden’s membership will make NATO stronger. It underscores the alliance’s continued expansion and adaptation in response to evolving security challenges.

What prompted Sweden and Finland to seek NATO membership?

Sweden and Finland abandoned their traditional positions of military nonalignment due to concerns arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The security situation in the region led them to seek protection under NATO’s security umbrella.

Why is it significant that Finland joined NATO before Sweden?

Finland’s successful NATO membership, which occurred in April following Turkey’s parliamentary ratification, makes it the 31st member of the alliance. This development marked a significant step for both Finland and NATO, with Finland becoming a member before Sweden, which is still in the process of ratification.

Why does NATO expansion require unanimous approval from existing member states?

NATO expansion requires unanimous approval to maintain the alliance’s unity and cohesion. All existing member states must agree to the inclusion of a new member to ensure a consensus-based decision-making process within the alliance.

More about NATO Membership Approval

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  • [Hungary’s objections to Sweden’s NATO bid](Insert Link)
  • [Finland’s NATO membership following Turkey’s ratification](Insert Link)
  • [NATO’s expansion and decision-making process](Insert Link)

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