Ankara has greenlighted Sweden’s bid to join the US-led military alliance
The Turkish parliament voted in favor of Sweden joining NATO on Tuesday, following a 20-month deadlock due to tensions between Ankara and Stockholm.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson praised the Turkish lawmakers. “Today we are one step closer to becoming a full member of NATO. Positive that the Grand General Assembly of Türkiye has voted in favor of Sweden’s NATO accession,” Kristersson wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to sign the bill within days, according to the BBC. It will leave Hungary as the final member of the 31-nation alliance to approve Sweden’s bid.
Ankara had previously refused to greenlight the accession of Sweden, demanding that the Nordic country toughen its stance on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Türkiye considers a terrorist group. Türkiye has accused the Swedish authorities of harboring Kurdish activists with ties to the PKK and demanded their extradition.
Together with its neighbor Finland, Sweden applied to join the US-led bloc in May of 2022, dropping the long-standing policy of non-alignment three months after Russia had launched its military operation in Ukraine.
Finland officially became a NATO member in April 2023. With Helsinki’s membership, the Western alliance roughly doubled the length of its border with Russia.
Swedish politicians have urged the public to prepare for possible escalation, with Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom warning about a “drawn-out confrontation” with Moscow.
All of this comes as NATO is planning its largest war games in decades. The drill dubbed ‘Steadfast Defender 2024’ will run from February to May, involving around 90,000 troops from all 31 member states and Sweden, NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe Christopher Cavoli announced last week.
Moscow has for decades insisted that NATO’s continued expansion towards its borders poses a threat to its national security and cites the alliance’s ties with Ukraine as one of the root causes of the current conflict.