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Montevideo, April 16th 2024 - 22:50 UTC



Sweden closer to joining NATO after Ankara's nod

Wednesday, January 24th 2024 - 09:31 UTC
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Now only Hungary's approval is needed for Stockholm's accession to the military alliance, which would alter Northern Europe's military map Now only Hungary's approval is needed for Stockholm's accession to the military alliance, which would alter Northern Europe's military map

Türkiye's Parliament Tuesday greenlighted Sweden's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by 287 votes in favor, 55 against, and four abstentions. However, the rest of the 600 lawmakers did not attend Tuesday's session. The surprising nod came after months of objections citing the Scandinavian country's stance regarding Kurdish militants and members of a network believed to be behind a failed coup in 2016.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had linked his acquiescence to Washington selling him F-16 jets which had been blocked for years by the US Congress and remains unclear to this day.

Sweden's entry now hinges on Hungary's rightwing Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his domestic allies. Budapest hinted it would not oppose Sweden's accession if Turkey agreed. Orbán invited his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, to discuss the ratification of Sweden's NATO membership, which would end a century-old tradition of staying away from all military alliances.

However, things changed after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Nonalignment was seen as key to avoiding tensions with Moscow but following the latest military deployment in Ukraine resulted in a shift among voters in Sweden and also Finland towards NATO. Finland became NATO's 31st member in April last year but Sweden's application has been held up by Turkey and Hungary. Unless an emergency session of Hungary’s parliament is called to debate Sweden's NATO bid, its next assembly is scheduled for Feb. 26. Orbán has broken ranks with NATO allies by adopting a Kremlin-friendly stance regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Swedish government tried to appease Erdogan by lifting an arms embargo and promising to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, but public demonstrations in Sweden by supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and by anti-Muslim activists who burned the Koran complicated the situation.

Pressure from the United States and other NATO allies had little effect until Erdogan said at a NATO summit last year that he would send the documents to Parliament for approval.

Sweden's joining NATO would strengthen the alliance's position around the Baltic Sea, which is also Russia’s point of access to St. Petersburg and the Kaliningrad enclave. Sweden has a modern air force and navy.

Russia has said Finland and Sweden joining NATO would adversely affect the situation in Northern Europe, previously ”one of the most stable regions in the world.”

Categories: Politics, International.
Tags: Hungary, NATO, Sweden.

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