Turkey again delays Sweden's NATO entry

Turkey Prolongs the Ratification of Sweden's Entry into NATO, Postponing the Process for Further Negotiations and Discussions

NATO Headquarters
NATO Headquarters / Utenriksdepartementet UD, CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

Turkey informed NATO that the ratification process for Sweden's membership in the alliance will not be completed by the upcoming weekly meeting of NATO foreign ministers. This means that Sweden will not be able to officially join NATO at this meeting.

The Turkish parliament postponed considering Sweden's application last week to conduct additional negotiations. Discussion of this matter in Turkey's foreign affairs committee is expected to resume in the coming days.

The NATO foreign ministers' meeting, where some expected Sweden's official accession, is scheduled for November 28-29.

Finland and Sweden's Path to NATO

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland decided to apply for NATO membership. This move received widespread support among NATO member countries. However, Turkish President Erdogan expressed dissent with their candidacies.

He accused these Scandinavian countries of supporting those whom Turkey considers terrorists and pointed to the existence of defense trade embargoes imposed on Turkey. In April, Turkey agreed to support Finland's NATO membership application, but continued to set conditions for approving Sweden's application.

Finland, historically known for its policy of neutrality, joined NATO on April 4, 2023.

Why Turkey Refuses to Support Sweden in Its Aspiration to Become a Member of the Alliance

The primary reason for Turkey's opposition to Sweden's entry into NATO lies in accusations of supporting and providing asylum to members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and other groups that Ankara considers terrorist organizations. The PKK is engaged in armed conflict against the Turkish state and is recognized as a terrorist organization not only by Turkey but also by the US and the EU.

Turkey insists on the extradition of individuals it considers terrorists residing in Sweden. This includes not only PKK members but also those associated with the Fethullah Gülen movement, which Turkey blames for orchestrating the unsuccessful state coup in 2016.

In response to these demands, Sweden has taken several steps, including the introduction of anti-terrorism laws and a promise to review its policy on arms export. However, Turkey continues to insist on meeting its demands before approving Sweden's NATO membership.


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