Published on: October 26, 2023 at 17:19 IST
In a significant move, Turkey’s parliamentary speaker has taken a step toward the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership bid.
The bill, approving Sweden’s entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance, was forwarded to the parliament’s foreign affairs commission, according to information published on the assembly’s website.
President Tayyip Erdogan had initially submitted the bill for the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership to the parliament on Monday after some months of delay.
This development is part of a broader shift in Sweden’s foreign policy, as both Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year, departing from their long-standing policies of military non-alignment, partly in response to Russia’s actions, including its invasion of Ukraine.
Finland’s membership in NATO was confirmed in April, marking a historic expansion of the alliance. However, Turkey, along with Hungary, had delayed approving Sweden’s application.
Turkey’s stance regarding Sweden’s NATO membership has been that Sweden should first take measures against individuals associated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and members of a network that Ankara holds responsible for a 2016 coup attempt. Turkey designates both groups as terrorist organizations. Notably, Sweden had passed a new anti-terrorism law in July.
To proceed, the Turkish bill needs approval from the foreign affairs commission before it can be formally ratified by the parliament’s general assembly and signed into law by President Erdogan. Currently, there is no specific timeline for the parliament to complete the ratification process, and the bill’s discussion will be decided by the commission chair and the parliamentary speaker.
During the proceedings, Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmus expressed his hope for swift discussions in the parliament’s general assembly.
The bill’s preamble emphasizes that Sweden’s NATO membership would contribute to the security of the “Euro-Atlantic region,” including Turkey. It recalls a July 10 meeting between President Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, during which they discussed Sweden’s bid to join the alliance.
In this meeting, Sweden committed to providing a roadmap to Turkey for the implementation of commitments outlined in a memorandum signed last year, which established a bilateral security cooperation mechanism at the ministerial level. Sweden also pledged to support Turkey’s European Union accession process.
This move signals a significant development in the ongoing dialogue between Turkey and Sweden regarding NATO membership, with Turkey playing a crucial role in the process’s advancement.