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Turkish parliament approves Sweden's NATO membership bid

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 23, 2024 11:12 PM 2 min read
Turkey's parliament building in Ankara, Turkey, on May 12, 2023. (Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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After months of discussions, Turkey's parliament voted to ratify Sweden's application to join NATO on Jan. 23, leaving Hungary the only country that has yet to approve Sweden's accession to the alliance, Bloomberg reported.

Turkey has dragged out the process of Sweden's entrance into NATO for more than 17 months since Stockholm initially applied in May 2022. Turkey has cited Sweden's alleged support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers to be terrorists, which Sweden denies.

The Turkish parliament voted 287 to 55 to approve Sweden's membership bid, sending the document to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a final sign off, according to Bloomberg.

Erdogan has previously backed Sweden's NATO accession and is widely expected to sign. He has already extracted concessions from other NATO members in exchange for a commitment that Turkey will support Sweden's bid.

Among the demands are the U.S. approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets and other kit to help modernize Turkey's Air Force, as well as further measures from Sweden to crack down on supporters of the Kurdish groups deemed terrorists by Turkey.

The Turkish parliament's decision moves Sweden closer to its goal of becoming the 32nd member of NATO. Finland also applied to join NATO in May 2022, shortly after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and was admitted as a member in April 2023.

The final remaining hurdle for Sweden's accession remains Hungary, which has also indicated it would not expedite the process. Hungary was previously another holdout on Finland's move to join the alliance.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on X earlier on Jan. 23 that he had invited Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to Hungary to negotiate on the country's NATO accession.

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