Sweden a step closer to NATO after Turkish legislators give go-ahead — RT World News

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The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission has consented to Sweden’s bid to join NATO

The foreign affairs commission of Türkiye’s unicameral Grand National Assembly, the nation’s parliament, approved Sweden’s NATO membership bid on Tuesday, following weeks of delays which put the expansion of the Western bloc on hold.

The country’s accession will now need to be approved in a parliamentary vote. Fuat Oktay, the head of the foreign affairs commission, has told reporters that the parliament’s speaker would only decide on timing. Following the committee’s approval, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Sweden welcomed the decision in a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter), writing that he was “looking forward to joining NATO.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the move, and called on Türkiye and Hungary to “complete their ratifications as soon as possible. Sweden’s membership will make NATO stronger.”

NATO requires that all of its members must agree unanimously on expansion, and Türkiye and Hungary are the only countries that have been standing in Stockholm’s way. Hungary claims that Swedish politicians have told “blatant lies” about the condition of Hungary’s democracy. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that there was “no great willingness” to approve Sweden’s bid; however, Türkiye has been seen as the main NATO member preventing the Nordic country’s inclusion in the military alliance.

In May 2022, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan objected to both Swedish and Finnish requests to join the military bloc, complaining that the Nordic nations were embracing terrorists. Türkiye later ratified Finland’s bid in April, but kept Sweden waiting, demanding more security concessions. Ankara said the Nordic country needed to take more steps to crack down on Kurdish militants. Stockholm penned a new anti-terrorism bill in response and said that it had upheld its part of a deal signed last year. Sweden and NATO members Finland, Canada and the Netherlands also took steps to lift arms embargoes imposed on Türkiye.

Earlier this month, Erdogan openly linked the ratification of Sweden’s membership to the US Congress’ approval of a Turkish request to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets. The White House has backed the Turkish request but there has been opposition in Congress to military sales to Türkiye. Türkiye’s heel-dragging has baffled some of the country’s fellow NATO members, who were swift to accept Sweden and Finland into the bloc.

Unlike its allies, Ankara seeks to maintain a neutral position towards the conflict in Ukraine, calling on the parties to end the hostilities, but also criticizing Western sanctions on Russia. In September Erdogan told PBS, a US broadcaster, that in his opinion, Russia and the West are “equally” reliable and trustworthy.

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