It will have to wait until 15 January, with the return of Turkish parliamentary activity

Sweden's NATO membership must wait until 2024, Turkish MPs say

PHOTO/AFP/ADEM ALTAN – Parlamento de Turquía
Parliament of Turkey - PHOTO/AFP/ADEM ALTAN

Sweden's membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) will "probably" have to wait until early 2024 and the return of Turkish MPs to parliament on 15 January as they will have to validate it, parliamentary sources told AFP.

  1. Accession protocol
  2. Turkish reluctance

Turkey, along with Hungary, is the last member of the Atlantic Alliance that has not ratified Sweden's accession, and has multiplied its demands and pretexts to justify its delay.

Accession protocol

On Tuesday, the Turkish parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee approved Sweden's NATO accession protocol, but it must still pass through the plenary of the Turkish parliament and obtain a majority.

If this happens, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be able to rubber stamp and close the process, ending a 19-month saga.

For the time being, the Turkish parliament has been on holiday since Wednesday night until 15 January, a parliamentary source told AFP.

In theory, Erdogan's party could call a special session between now and then to address the issue, but it seems unlikely and the vote is likely to take place after the New Year.

Stockholm submitted its bid shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, at the same time as neighbouring Finland, which was admitted in April.

Turkish reluctance

During this time, Turkey accused Sweden of harbouring militants from Kurdish movements described as "terrorists" by Ankara. Sweden agreed to tighten its anti-terrorism legislation in the face of Turkish pressure.

Erdogan lifted his reluctance to Sweden's candidacy at the NATO summit in Lithuania in July, but has continued to put pressure on the US.

Ankara wants to enter the US F-16 fighter purchase programme to modernise its air fleet. Joe Biden's administration is not hostile to this operation, but the sale has so far been blocked by the US Congress for political reasons, including recent tensions with fellow NATO member Greece.

According to a diplomatic source in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday "at the latter's request".

The source explained that Fidan insisted on the delivery of the planes, and recalled that Ankara "expects the US administration and Congress to act in the spirit of the Alliance and respect the commitments made".