Turkey gives preliminary agreement to Sweden’s entry into the Atlantic alliance

For Stockholm to join NATO, the accession protocol must still be definitively adopted by the Turkish Plenary Assembly and by Hungary.



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The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish National Assembly, Fuat Oktay, in Ankara, December 26, 2023. (ADEM ALTAN / AFP)

Sweden is moving a little closer to the doors of NATO, after a preliminary agreement from Turkey on Tuesday December 26. An agreement which will still have to be confirmed by the Turkish Assembly. Turkey is the last member of the Atlantic Alliance, with Hungary, to block the way for Sweden, which asked to join NATO in May 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But the Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee approved the accession protocol on Tuesday, and sent it to the Plenary Assembly for final adoption – a procedure for which the date was not specified.

The decision was immediately welcomed by the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tobias Billström: “We look forward to becoming members of NATO”, declared the minister to the public television site SVT Nyheter. The Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, also “greeted” the vote, and added in a press release that the entry of Sweden into the organization “will make NATO stronger”.

American F-16s as condition

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, opposed Sweden’s entry into NATO for many months, denouncing Stockholm’s supposed leniency towards certain Kurdish groups, considered by Ankara as terrorists. Announced as a simple formality in November, the examination of the accession protocol collapsed after a single meeting.

At the beginning of December, Recep Tayyip Erdogan added as a condition to his ratification an approval “simultaneous” by the American Congress of the sale of new generation F-16 aircraft to Turkey, which it needs to modernize its air force. “It now seems clear that the two processes will move forward in parallel”the director of the German Marshall Fund in Ankara, Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, told AFP.

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