Turkey Makes Bold Move: Approves Sweden's NATO Membership Bid

Turkey Makes Bold Move: Approves Swedens NATO Membership Bid

The speaker of Turkey’s parliament, Numan Kurtulmus, announced on Tuesday that he will send a bill approving Sweden’s NATO membership bid to parliament’s foreign affairs commission. This move comes after President Tayyip Erdogan submitted the ratification bill for Sweden’s NATO membership bid on Monday. The bill now needs to be approved by the foreign affairs commission before it can be ratified by the general assembly, signed into law by Erdogan, and published in the Official Gazette. Sweden’s NATO membership bid had previously been held up by Turkey and Hungary.

However, Hungary’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, stated on Tuesday that Hungary will make its own sovereign decision regarding the ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid. This announcement ensures that the decision does not solely rest with Turkey. Turkey had initially raised objections to Sweden's membership bid due to alleged harboring of individuals who Turkey claims are members of terrorist groups. However, with the bill now moving forward, Erdogan has helped to appease his NATO allies.

The protocol on Sweden’s NATO accession was signed by Erdogan on October 23, 2023, and referred to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The move to approve Sweden’s NATO membership bid was welcomed by Sweden’s Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, who now awaits the decision from the parliament. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed his anticipation for a speedy vote in the Turkish parliament and for Sweden to join the Western defense alliance. He even raised the possibility of Sweden joining at the next foreign ministers’ meeting on November 28 and 29.

Along with Hungary's parliament, the United States will also need to ratify Sweden’s NATO application before it can become a member. The US welcomed Turkey's move and looks forward to the bill passing in the Turkish parliament as soon as possible. While Turkey has not set a specific timeframe for ratification, it is expected that the bill will pass in parliament once it is submitted to the general assembly.

The ruling AK Party and its nationalist and Islamist partners hold the majority of seats in parliament, making passage likely. However, the scheduling of the vote will ultimately be determined by Erdogan. Sweden and Finland both applied to join NATO last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland’s membership was sealed in April, but Sweden’s bid had been delayed. With the bill now progressing in Turkey and Hungary, it is expected that Sweden will soon become a member of the Western defense alliance.

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