These are bittersweet days for NATO and Sweden. The good news is that Sweden’s accession application has finally been ratified by the Turkish parliament. Now it must be signed by President Erdogan, which should happen soon. Bad news? Hungarians are still reluctant to make this decision.
After 20 months of negotiations and uncertainty, Ankara decided to give Stockholm the green light. The Turkish parliament agreed to Sweden joining NATO. – Parliament voted and now the bill will be signed by President Erdogan. The documents will then be handed over to the US Department of State, said Tobias Billström, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The debate on the ratification of the application that Sweden submitted in 2022 after Russia’s attack on Ukraine lasted over four hours. The motion was supported by the Justice and Development Party, the nationalist National Action Party and the main opposition group, the Republican People’s Party. The opposition Islamist, nationalist and leftist parties did not agree to ratification.
– I’m very happy about this. This will provide us with better protection and security against Russian aggression. The Russians will have to think twice before they attack us, comments Rene, a resident of Malmo. – It’s good that we finally managed to reach an agreement. Leaving this in limbo was risky and dangerous for Sweden, says Jenny, a resident of Malmo.
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Ankara blocked Sweden’s entry into NATO, claiming that the country sheltered Kurdish fighters whom Turkey considers a threat to its security. She demanded that Stockholm toughen its stance towards members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States.
– Sweden changed its constitution. It arrested and tried people associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. She drew attention to Turkey’s security and its approach to the fight against terrorism, says Oguz Ucuncu from the Justice and Development Party.
The issue of Hungary
Late last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that ratification would be linked to the approval by the US Congress of the sale of F-16 aircraft and spare parts to Turkey. American diplomacy, which argued that the two cases were unrelated, welcomed the Turkish parliament’s decision.
“This was a priority for President Joe Biden. Sweden is a strong and capable military partner. Its membership in NATO will make the United States and the Alliance safer and stronger,” wrote US national security adviser Jake Sullivan on social media.
– Sweden has been non-aligned and neutral for a long time, so its entry into NATO will be a radical and fundamental change. This is difficult for some politicians to accept, but most of the establishment and society are positive about Sweden’s membership in NATO. This may have an impact on the role that Sweden will play in foreign policy in the coming years – says Prof. Rikard Bengtsson from the University of Lund.
Turkey’s consent means that currently the only country blocking Sweden’s membership in NATO is Hungary, where the vote on ratification has been repeatedly postponed. The reason for the delays is said to be criticism of the state of Hungarian democracy by Swedish politicians. – The change in Poland weakened Orban’s position and further isolated him. (…) It is known that sooner or later Sweden will ratify this accession – says prof. Maciej Kisilowski from the Central European University in Vienna.
On Tuesday, Viktor Orban invited the Swedish Prime Minister for talks in Budapest. Orban said that “more intense dialogue could contribute to strengthening trust.” The head of Swedish diplomacy stated that he saw no reason why Sweden should negotiate with Hungary.
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Main photo source: Reuters