In a groundbreaking development, Turkiye has announced its support for Sweden’s bid to join the NATO alliance, a move that comes after more than a year of political negotiations. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the decision, stating that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to fast-track the ratification process in the Grand National Assembly. This historic step strengthens the alliance and enhances security for all NATO Allies.
The breakthrough came as a result of a meeting orchestrated by Stoltenberg between Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson ahead of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. The summit, scheduled to commence on Tuesday, holds significant importance for NATO’s future.
Sweden officially applied for NATO membership in May 2022, meeting the alliance’s stringent political and military requirements. However, certain allies withheld their support for various reasons, hindering Sweden’s accession. Turkiye demanded that Stockholm end its support for Kurdish militant groups, which Ankara considers terrorist organizations. Additionally, internal debates within the Hungarian government concerning criticisms directed at Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s administration by Swedish political figures have further complicated the parliamentary vote.
For decades, Sweden maintained a policy of neutrality amid Europe’s military alliances. Despite having defense agreements with NATO and other Scandinavian states in the event of a Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact threat, Sweden upheld its neutrality even after the dissolution of both entities in the early 1990s.
The situation changed following Russia’s special operation in Ukraine in February 2022, triggered partly by the potential of Ukraine joining NATO. Under mounting pressure, Stockholm and Helsinki ultimately acquiesced and abandoned their neutrality to align with the Western anti-Russian alliance.
With Turkey’s support, Sweden’s NATO bid gains significant momentum, paving the way for enhanced security cooperation and a strengthened alliance in the face of evolving geopolitical challenges.
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