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Reuters: Turkey will not speed up Sweden NATO accession

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 1, 2023 6:23 PM 1 min read
Fuat Oktay, Chairman of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee, meets with Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen (not seen) in Ankara, Turkey on Oct. 27, 2023. (Berke Bayur/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Turkey's parliamentary foreign affairs committee will keep Sweden's NATO bid on its regular agenda as the country does not consider the matter as urgent as other countries, Turkish foreign affairs committee chair Fuat Oktay said on Nov. 1, Reuters reported.

"Sweden's NATO membership is just one of the international agreements on our agenda waiting for ratification," Oktay said. "We will discuss it when the time comes ... within the framework of our own priorities... What is urgent for others is not necessarily urgent for (us)."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier called for a "speedy vote" by Turkey's parliament, saying that the process was "going well."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a long-awaited protocol on Sweden's NATO accession on Oct. 23, which was then sent to parliament for final ratification.

If ratified, it will then return to Erdogan to formally sign it into law.

Both Sweden and Finland applied to join the alliance in May 2022 following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Turkey initially blocked both of their bids but gave the green light to Finland's accession in March.

Among the main reasons why Ankara denied Stockholm's entry was the alleged Swedish support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists. Sweden denied such support.

Even after Sweden secures final approval from Turkey, there are signs that Hungary, another NATO member and previous holdout on Finland's accession, may also cause delays.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in July 2023 that Hungary supported Sweden joining the alliance, but both he and Hungarian President Viktor Orban have since made unclear statements about the matter.

After news broke of Erdogan signing the protocol, Szijjarto said on Oct. 24 that "this changes nothing on our side. Hungary’s parliament is the parliament of a sovereign country, so it will make a sovereign decision on this issue."

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