Turkey Approves Sweden's NATO Membership Bid Following 20-Month Delay

January 25, 2024

The Turkish Parliament's approval of Sweden's NATO bid was hailed by U.S. Ambassador Jeff Flake, who stated that Turkey's commitment to NATO demonstrated a lasting partnership.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan (L) meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels, Belgium on November 28, 2023. Photo by Anadolu Images.


urkey’s parliament ratified Sweden’s NATO membership bid on January 23, 2024, overcoming a 20-month delay and eliminating a significant obstacle to expanding the transatlantic military alliance. The vote, with 287 in favor and 55 against, took place in Turkey’s general assembly, where President Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling alliance holds a majority.

Sweden initially applied for NATO membership in 2022, seeking to enhance its security amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The approval process had faced hurdles, with Turkey and Hungary raising objections, particularly concerning the two countries’ protection of groups deemed as terrorists.

While Turkey had previously endorsed Finland’s NATO membership in April of the previous year, the approval for Sweden had been delayed. The Turkish Parliament’s approval was hailed by U.S. Ambassador Jeff Flake, who stated that Turkey’s commitment to NATO demonstrated a lasting partnership.

Hungary is yet to approve Sweden’s bid

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom welcomed the parliamentary approval, expressing anticipation for President Erdoğan to sign the ratification document. President Erdoğan is expected to sign the legislation in the coming days, leaving Hungary as the sole member state yet to approve Sweden’s accession.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, known for his amicable relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, invited his Swedish counterpart for negotiations on joining the bloc. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Hungary to complete its national ratification promptly.

The Turkish delay in approving Sweden’s bid had allowed Turkey to extract concessions, including urging Stockholm to take a tougher stance on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by the EU and the U.S. In response, Sweden introduced a new anti-terrorism bill and, along with Finland, Canada, and the Netherlands, eased policies on arms exports to Turkey.

US welcomes Turkey’s move

President Erdoğan had linked the ratification to U.S. approval of the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. The White House supports the sale, and analysts anticipate a swift deal following Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s bid. However, there is no clear timeframe for the U.S. Congress to approve the deal.

In a related development, the U.S. welcomed Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership bid, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emphasizing its importance to President Biden. Sullivan stated that Sweden’s NATO membership would make the U.S. and the alliance “safer and stronger.”

The situation unfolds as global leaders navigate the complexities of NATO expansion and regional dynamics, with particular attention to Turkey’s evolving relations with both Sweden and the wider NATO alliance.

Sources: Reuters and Anadolu Agency

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