(NewsSpace.com) – For more than 70 years, Sweden and Finland kept a neutral stance when it came to matters of global conflict. However, that all changed when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and both countries decided that they now needed the security that came with being a NATO member. Finland became a member on April 4, 2023, and now Sweden seems to be next in line.
On Tuesday, January 23, Türkiye’s (Turkey) parliament voted 287-55 to approve Sweden as a NATO member. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now needs to sign the protocol into law, which will move the Scandinavian country one step closer to joining the bloc. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson posted about the achievement on X, formerly Twitter.
Today we are one step closer to becoming a full member of NATO. Positive that the Grand General Assembly of Türkiye has voted in favour of Sweden’s NATO accession.
— SwedishPM (@SwedishPM) January 23, 2024
Türkiye was a holdout for a bit because of its concerns surrounding Kurdish groups in Sweden, as well as arms export restrictions to its country. To address those measures, Swedish officials “amended [Sweden’s] constitution, changed its laws, significantly expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK, and resumed arms exports to Türkiye,” showing its commitment to becoming a NATO member. The country continued to delay, using the measure as a bargaining chip, particularly in its efforts to purchase American F-16 fighter jets.
There’s one obstacle left for Sweden, and that’s Hungary. It’s not clear why Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is holding out, though some speculate it has to do with Sweden’s open criticism of Hungary’s state of democracy.
Now, Orbán is facing mounting pressure, including from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said he had a “good call” recently with the prime minister. The alliance is looking forward to adding Sweden to the fold like it did Finland, because the two not only offer strategic value in terms of their position in the north, but they also have advanced military capabilities. Then, there’s the fact that it’s a symbolic move to show Russian President Vladimir Putin that his actions had the opposite effect that he hoped. Instead of less NATO, now there’s more.
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