Turkey’s committee backs NATO bid of Sweden

Turkey’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee has given the green light to NATO aspirations of Sweden, marking a significant step toward the Nordic nation’s potential membership in the Western military coalition.

Sweden’s path to NATO now hinges on the approval of its accession protocol in Turkey’s general assembly, the final legislative stage. However, a specific date for this decisive vote has not yet been scheduled.

Despite Turkey’s NATO membership, the ratification of Sweden’s application faced prolonged delay, with Ankara citing concerns about Sweden’s approach to groups deemed security threats, including Kurdish militants and factions associated with a failed coup in 2016.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduced further complications by linking Sweden’s NATO membership approval to the U.S. Congress’ decision on Turkey’s request for 40 new F-16 fighter jets and upgrades for its existing fleet.

Additionally, Erdogan urged NATO allies like Canada to lift arms embargoes imposed on Turkey. While the White House supported Turkey’s F-16 request, resistance within the U.S. Congress against military sales to Turkey remains robust.

Earlier discussions within Turkey’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee concerning Sweden’s NATO membership were interrupted when legislators from Erdogan’s party motioned for a postponement, citing the need for clarity on certain issues and insufficiently matured negotiations with Sweden.

However, in the recent committee vote, a majority of lawmakers endorsed Sweden’s application for NATO membership.

Sweden and Finland altered their historically non-aligned military stance to seek refuge under NATO’s security umbrella following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February 2022. Finland joined NATO in April after Turkey’s parliament ratified its bid, becoming the alliance’s 31st member.

NATO expansion mandates unanimous consent from existing members, and Turkey, alongside Hungary, has been the primary holdout. Hungary, too, has impeded Sweden’s bid, alleging falsehoods regarding the state of Hungary’s democracy by Swedish politicians.

The prolonged delays have caused frustration among other NATO allies, eager to welcome Sweden and Finland into the alliance swiftly.

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