Turkish Parliament Committee Approves Sweden’s NATO Bid Amidst Diplomatic Tensions

In a significant development, the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee has given its consent to Sweden’s bid to join NATO, marking a crucial step towards the Nordic country’s potential membership in the Western military alliance. The approval comes after a prolonged delay by Turkey, a NATO member, in ratifying Sweden’s membership, citing concerns related to security issues.

Sweden’s accession protocol will now proceed to the Turkish parliament’s general assembly for the final legislative stage. However, no specific date for the assembly’s decision has been set.

The Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused Sweden of being too lenient towards groups deemed threats to Turkey’s security, including Kurdish militants and individuals associated with the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström expressed optimism about the committee’s decision, stating on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), “The next step is for parliament to vote on the matter. We look forward to becoming a member of NATO.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the development, urging Turkey and Hungary to expedite their ratifications. He emphasized that Sweden’s NATO membership would contribute to strengthening the alliance.

However, Hungary has also delayed Sweden’s NATO bid, alleging that Swedish politicians have made “blatant lies” about the state of Hungary’s democracy. No timeline for Hungary’s ratification has been announced.

Turkish President Erdogan recently linked the approval of Sweden’s NATO membership to the U.S. Congress’ endorsement of Turkey’s request to acquire 40 new F-16 fighter jets and kits to modernize its existing fleet. Erdogan also urged NATO allies, including Canada, to lift arms embargoes imposed on Turkey.

While the White House has supported Turkey’s F-16 request, there is strong opposition in the U.S. Congress to military sales to Turkey.

The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee initiated discussions on Sweden’s NATO membership last month, but the meeting was adjourned after Erdogan’s party legislators requested a postponement, citing the need for further clarification and claiming that negotiations with Sweden had not “matured” enough.

In a vote on Tuesday, the majority of committee legislators favored Sweden’s application to join NATO. Sweden and Finland departed from their traditional positions of military nonalignment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Finland joined NATO in April, becoming the alliance’s 31st member after Turkey’s parliament ratified the Nordic country’s bid.

NATO’s expansion requires unanimous approval from all existing members, and Turkey and Hungary are the only countries currently withholding their consent. The diplomatic maneuvering surrounding Sweden’s NATO bid reflects the intricate dynamics and geopolitical considerations within the alliance.

Author

  • Favour Amarachi

    Favour Amarachi is an international relations scholar, an Academic enthusiast and a lover of Nature. She believed in the laws of neutrality and hold in high esteem the principles of transcendentalism.

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