Sweden’s NATO Membership In The Works After Turkey Committee Approves Bid

Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM)’s Foreign Affairs Committee’s Fuat Oktay (C) chairs a committee session at the TBMM in Ankara on December 26, 2023. The key committee in the Turkish parliament gave the greenlight for Sweden’s NATO membership, clearing another hurdle in the Nordic country’s accession process. (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:57 PM – Tuesday, December 26, 2023

On Tuesday, the foreign affairs committee of the Turkish parliament approved Sweden’s NATO membership application, bringing the Nordic nation—which had previously been nonaligned—one step closer to becoming a member of the Western military alliance.


The last step in Turkey’s legislative procedure will now require the general assembly of the Turkish Parliament to adopt Sweden’s accession treaty.

NATO member Turkey has been holding up Sweden’s approval of its membership for more than a year, claiming that the nation is too forgiving of organizations that Ankara views as security concerns, such as Kurdish militants and members of a network that Ankara holds responsible for a failed coup attempt in 2016.

The foreign affairs committee of the Turkish Parliament had started debating Sweden’s NATO membership last month. However, lawmakers from Erdogan’s ruling party moved to postpone the meeting, claiming that discussions with Sweden hadn’t “matured” sufficiently and that certain topics needed further explanation.

When the committee reconvened on Tuesday, a sizable majority of the lawmakers there voted in support of Sweden’s bid to join.

Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar briefed the committee members before the vote, outlining the actions Sweden has taken in response to Turkish demands, such as removing limitations on sales to the military sector and changing anti-terrorism legislation in ways that “no one could have imagined five or six years ago.”

“It is unrealistic to expect that the Swedish authorities will immediately fulfill all of our demands. This is a process, and this process requires long-term and consistent effort,” he said.

The move was also welcomed by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who expressed his expectation that Turkey and Hungary “will now complete their ratifications as soon as possible.” With Sweden in NATO, the alliance will grow stronger.

Sweden’s candidacy has also been delayed by Hungary, according to claims made by Swedish lawmakers regarding the state of Hungary’s democracy being “blatant lies.”

Hungary has not disclosed the potential date of the nation’s ratification.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, publicly stated earlier this month that the acceptance of Sweden’s NATO membership depended on the U.S. Congress approving Turkey’s desire to buy 40 F-16 fighter planes and kits to upgrade its current fleet.

Erdogan also demanded that arms embargoes against Turkey be lifted by Canada and other NATO countries.

The F-16 proposal from Turkey has the support of the White House, however, Congress is still against selling military equipment to Turkey.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Sweden and Finland gave up their long-standing principles of military nonalignment in order to seek security under NATO. Following the ratification of Finland’s petition by Turkey’s Parliament, the Nordic nation became the 31st member of NATO in April.

Turkey and Hungary are the two nations resisting NATO’s expansion, which requires the consent of all current members.

Other NATO partners that welcomed Sweden and Finland into the alliance quickly were irritated by the delays.

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