Turkey parliament backs Sweden’s Nato membership

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Lawmakers voted 287-55 in favour of Sweden’s bid
By George Wright
BBC News

The Turkish parliament has ratified Sweden’s bid to join Nato by an big majority in a long-delayed vote.

Sweden applied to join in 2022 after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

But Turkey withheld its approval following disagreements over what it called Sweden’s support to Kurdish separatists.

Hungary is now the sole Nato nation not to have ratified Sweden’s bid for membership.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson posted on social media: “Today we are one step closer to becoming a full member of Nato”.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey’s vote and said he was counting on Hungary to “complete its national ratification as soon as possible”.

Budapest has accused Sweden of having a hostile attitude towards it. In March Hungarian government spokesman Zoltán Kovács accused officials in Sweden of sitting on a “crumbling throne of moral superiority”. Stockholm has previously accused the Hungarian government of backsliding on the EU’s democratic principles.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday invited his Swedish counterpart to Budapest for talks.

But Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said he saw “no reason” to negotiate with Hungary “at this point”.

Turkey had been blocking Sweden’s application until July, when an agreement was reached.. On Tuesday evening lawmakers voted 287-55 in favour of Swedish membership. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now expected to sign the legislation.

Turkey had argued Sweden was giving refuge to Kurdish militants, and needed to do more to crack down on rebel groups like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist organisation. The EU and US have also designated the PKK as a terrorist group.

Like any of Nato’s 31 member countries, Turkey has the power to block new nations from joining the group.

But Sweden introduced tougher anti-terrorism laws in June, making it illegal to give financial or logistical help to terrorist groups.

Sweden and its eastern neighbour Finland, both long considered as militarily neutral, announced their intention to join Nato in May 2022, several months after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Finland formally joined in April.

Finland formally joined Nato in April, doubling the length of the alliance’s border with Russia.

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