The Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee approved Sweden’s NATO candidacy on Tuesday, sending the measure to the country’s plenary general assembly for a vote.
The committee chairman, however, told reporters that no date had been set for the vote and that it was unlikely to take place quickly, the New York Times reported.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Finland and Sweden each applied to join NATO – an important step that requires approval from all member states of the military alliance. Finland joined NATO in April, becoming the 31st member, after the Turkish parliament ratified its candidacy.
Yet Turkey and Hungary continued to delay approval of the Swedish application. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that his country’s ratification of Sweden’s membership would depend on US Congress approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
The White House has expressed support for the sale, but Congress has some reservations.
“The positive developments of the United States regarding the F-16 issue and Canada’s fulfillment of its promises will accelerate our parliament’s positive opinion on (Sweden’s accession),” Erdoğan said in reported remarks by the state-run Anadolu agency last week.
“All of these things are linked,” he said at the time, adding that Canada and other NATO allies must also lift their arms embargoes.
On Tuesday, Swedish and NATO officials celebrated the approval by Turkey’s foreign affairs committee.
“We welcome that Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Committee has approved Sweden’s NATO membership,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström wrote in a message on X, the former Twitter platform. “The next step is for Parliament to vote on the issue. We look forward to becoming a member of @NATO.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the Turkish committee’s vote and, according to the Associated Press, called on Turkey and Hungary “to complete their ratifications as soon as possible.” Swedish membership will strengthen NATO.”
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