Turkiye President Approves Sweden’s NATO Membership

Kamis, 25 Januari 2024 – 10:45 WIB

Turkiye – Turkiye’s President officially approved Sweden to become NATO membership, bringing the Nordic country significantly closer to joining the Western military alliance after months in Limbo. 

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Three months after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, submitted a bill on approving membership to parliament, MPs voted in favour of ratifying it late on Tuesday night. 

After a four-hour debate, 287 of 346 MPs voted yes, 35 against and the rest abstained. Erdogan is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days. 

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“We are one step closer to becoming a full member of NATO. Positive that the Grand General Assembly of Turkiye has voted in favour of Sweden’s Nato accession,” the Swedish prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, reacted quickly to the news said. 

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Tobias Billström, Sweden’s foreign minister, said the vote was “of course good”, but that the government was now waiting for the Turkish president to sign the ratification and send it on. “Of course we are not finished with the process until it has happened, on the Turkish side,” he told Swedish broadcaster SVT.

Nato’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, welcomed the vote, saying he expected Hungary to ratify Sweden “as soon as possible”.  

“Sweden’s membership makes Nato stronger and us all safer,” he added. 

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Turkiye’s approval leaves Hungary as the only country still to ratify Swedish membership. Earlier on Tuesday, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, hinted at progress by inviting Kristersson to visit for negotiations on the question.

In a letter, he wrote: “I believe that a more intensive dialogue could contribute to reinforcing trust between our countries and institutions thus allowing to further strengthen our political and security arrangements.”

A spokesperson for Kristersson said they did not have any comment on the invite for now, but Billström said that before responding the government would need to think through what the letter signals. 

Sweden applied to join Nato in May 2022, at the same time as Finland, in a historic shift in its security policy prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that February.

The outgoing Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, congratulated Sweden, writing on X, formerly Twitter, in Swedish: “I am very glad of the Turkish parliament’s vote to ratify Sweden’s Nato membership. Sweden’s membership will improve security in the Baltic region and make the whole alliance stronger. When Sweden is a member, Finland’s membership will also be completed.”

Turkiye and Hungary, both of whom maintain better relations with Russia than other members of the organisation, raised objections, holding up a process that requires unanimity among Nato’s member countries.

Finland finally joined last year but Ankara pressed Stockholm to toughen its stance on members of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) based in Sweden, which the United States and the European Union as well as Turkey deem a terrorist group.

Sweden has already signed a deal with the US giving full access to 17 of its military bases and started the Nato integration process.

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“Sweden’s membership makes Nato stronger and us all safer,” he added. 

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