Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Turkey’s parliament okays Sweden’s NATO membership

Turkey retains the option to delay the formal approval process.

• January 24, 2024
NATO
NATO Logo used to illustrate the story {Photo credit: CSIS]

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey has overwhelmingly voted in favour of approving Sweden’s application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a significant development in the rapidly changing global political and security landscape. 

The decision, which unfolded on Tuesday, saw a decisive 287 votes in favour, 55 against, with four abstentions, as reported by the New York Times. This move not only brings Sweden a step closer to becoming a member of the military alliance but also has the potential to alleviate the longstanding diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the United States.

The parliamentary resolution is poised to be formalised in Turkey’s official gazette, marking the commencement of its practical implementation. However, Turkey’s full accession to NATO hinges on Hungary’s subsequent approval.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, expressed satisfaction with the decision, stating, “I welcome the news from Turkey” and expressed confidence that Hungary would expedite its national ratification. He added, “Sweden has fulfilled its commitments. Sweden’s membership makes NATO stronger and all of us safer.”

The alliance views Sweden’s prospective accession as an opportunity to open up a substantial stretch of Nordic territory for potential military operations and extend automatic protection to Sweden from other member states in the event of an attack.

Camille Grand, a former NATO Assistant Secretary General, emphasised the significance of full-fledged alliance status. 

“Being a full-fledged ally means that if Sweden is under pressure or attack, there is no debate” over NATO’s commitment to defending it.

He drew a parallel with the situation in Ukraine, highlighting that close partnerships don’t guarantee the same level of commitment as full alliance membership.

The National Security Adviser to the President of the United States, Jake Sullivan, underscored the priority placed on Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO bid by President Joe Biden. 

“Sweden is a strong, capable defence partner whose membership in NATO will make the U.S. and the Alliance safer and stronger.” Mr Sullivan wrote on his X account.

Despite the positive vote on Tuesday, the swift accession of Sweden into NATO is not guaranteed. Turkey retains the option to delay the formal approval process, and uncertainty looms over when Hungary, whose Parliament is in recess until February 15, might provide its consent.

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