Sweden’s NATO Aspirations Gain Momentum: Turkey Clears Crucial Hurdle

In a key development, Sweden’s bid to join NATO crossed an important milestone after a Turkish parliamentary committee approved its accession protocol on December 27. This brings Sweden one step closer towards formal inclusion in the military alliance as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to simmer.

Parliamentary Panel Backs Bid

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Parliament, Grand National Assembly, voted to back Sweden’s bid to join NATO. This critical endorsement by a committee that comprises members of all political parties comes after Sweden ramped up actions to assuage Turkish concerns over the past months.

With Turkish President Erdogan’s ruling alliance commanding a majority in parliament, the final vote among all members is also expected to tilt in Sweden’s favor soon despite earlier delays. Joining NATO requires unanimous approval from all existing member states.

Geopolitical Context

Sweden has traditionally maintained military non-alignment for over 200 years since the Napoleonic Wars era. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and hostile rhetoric towards Nordic expansion compelled Sweden and neighboring Finland to reassess their strategic doctrine.

In May 2022, both nations formally applied to join NATO soon after the Ukraine invasion began in late February. While most NATO members quickly approved, Turkey and Hungary pressed for more concessions over security issues before backing Sweden’s bid.

Roadblocks and Compromises

President Erdogan leveraged the NATO application to push national priorities like sanctioning Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorist factions. Sweden had to agree to tougher legal and surveillance measures this year after decades of relatively welcoming asylum policies.

Erdogan also urged the US for F-16 sales, which the recent $1.5 billion defense allocation by Congress indicates is making headway. With these compromises, Turkey finally revoked its opposition in July but formal accession was still pending parliamentary approvals.



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