Turkey approves Sweden's NATO membership bid on Monday after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan took a significant step, bringing an end to months of uncertainty that had strained the alliance amid ongoing conflicts in Ukraine.
Cecilia JonesJul 11, 20233828 Shares116008 Views
Turkey approves Sweden's NATO membership bidon Monday after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan took a significant step, bringing an end to months of uncertainty that had strained the alliance amid ongoing conflicts in Ukraine. Last year, both Sweden and Finland, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, deviated from their long-standing policies of military non-alignment and applied for NATO membership.
While Finland's bid for NATO membership was approved in April, Turkey and Hungary had not yet given the green light to Sweden's request. Ahead of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, set to commence on Tuesday, Sweden had been actively working towards securing its place within the alliance.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference:
I'm glad to announce that President Erdogan has agreed to forward the accession protocol for Sweden to the grand national assembly as soon as possible, and work closely with the assembly to ensure ratification.- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
In an effort to resolve the impasse, President Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson engaged in lengthy discussions on the eve of the summit. Erdogan had remained steadfast for several months, emphasizing that Sweden's NATO membership was contingent upon the fulfillment of a previously agreed-upon deal made during the alliance's Madrid summit. He made it clear that Ankara would not make any compromises.
Turkey has raised concerns about Sweden's perceived insufficient action against individuals Turkey considers terrorists, particularly members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.
Turkey's President Erdogan gives green light to Sweden's NATO bid, says Stoltenberg
Prior to their meeting, Erdogan and Kristersson displayed a relaxed demeanor, with the Swedish leader even making a lighthearted joke about parking his plane next to the larger Turkish aircraft at Vilnius airport.
"This has been a good day for Sweden," Kristersson told reporters, saying the joint statement on Monday represented "a very big step" toward the final ratification of Sweden's membership of NATO.
In their joint statement, both countries confirmed that Sweden reiterated its commitment to not providing support to Kurdish groups and expressed active support for revitalizing Turkey's EU accession process. Meanwhile, Erdogan emphasized that the European Union should initiate the path toward Turkey's accession to the EU before the Turkish parliament approves Sweden's NATO membership.
Following their meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that Erdogan had agreed to expedite the ratification process in parliament "as soon as possible," although he couldn't provide a specific timeline. It took approximately two weeks for Turkey's parliament to ratify Finland's membership in NATO.
With Hungary no longer blocking Sweden's NATO membership ratification, as announced by the chief of staff of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Turkish approval would remove the final obstacle to Sweden's accession to NATO. All member states' approval is necessary for NATO membership applications.
For several months, the United States and its allies have exerted pressure on Ankara. There is a belief among some NATO partners that Turkey has been leveraging Sweden's membership bid to influence Washington regarding its request to purchase $20 billion worth of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and around 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes, a deal that was requested in October 2021.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who expressed his approval of the announcement, is scheduled to engage in face-to-face discussions with Erdogan during the summit, which provides an opportunity for further dialogue and negotiation.