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Turkish Parliament Set to Discuss Sweden’s NATO Bid on Thursday

After a long delay, Türkiye moves forward with ratification of Sweden’s membership of NATO with a committee of Parliament scheduled to discuss the matter on Thursday, though the outcome of the vote is still unclear

Sweden believes it has done everything to appease Türkiye’s concerns, but its case for membership in NATO rests now in lawmakers’ hands. The Turkish Parliament’s foreign affairs commission will debate a bill approving Sweden’s NATO membership on Thursday, according to the official agenda of the commission.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan submitted the bill to Parliament for ratification three weeks ago, in a move welcomed by NATO and Stockholm. Sweden on Tuesday welcomed the decision. “That is welcome information,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in a text to Reuters. Sweden looks forward to being a member of NATO.”

The bill must be approved by Parliament’s foreign affairs commission before a vote by the full general assembly. Erdoğan would then sign it into law.

While saying Ankara expected more from Sweden in combating the PKK terrorist group, Erdoğan said this month that he would try to facilitate the ratification as much as possible.

NATO foreign ministers will meet in Brussels on Nov. 28-29. Long-neutral Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year to bolster their security in the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Finland’s membership was sealed in April, but Sweden’s bid has been held up by Türkiye and Hungary.

Fuat Oktay, the former vice president who now heads the foreign affairs commission, said earlier this month that the issue was not so urgent for Türkiye and, thus, would be included in its regular agenda rather than be discussed in an extraordinary session. “Sweden’s NATO membership is just one of the international agreements on our agenda waiting for ratification,” Oktay told a lawmakers meeting. “We will discuss it when the time comes … within the framework of our own priorities … What is urgent for others is not necessarily urgent for (us).”

Speaking to reporters earlier this month, President Erdoğan said Stockholm had taken some steps regarding protests organized by the PKK and also concerning arms embargoes on Türkiye, but not on the activities of the PKK in Sweden.

“Our duty was to submit this to Parliament in the first stage; we did that,” he said.

Erdoğan also said planned talks in Parliament about Türkiye’s 2024 state budget would now take priority, suggesting that the approval of Sweden’s NATO membership might not be rapid. “But we will try to facilitate the work (on ratifying Sweden’s NATO bid) as much as possible. We will try to show positive efforts as much as possible at this point, so long as our counterparts approach us positively.”

Türkiye said earlier that Sweden must first take measures against supporters of the PKK and members of the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ). Sweden approved a new counterterrorism law in July. Türkiye says Sweden harbors terrorist members and has demanded their extradition earlier. Swedish courts have blocked some expulsions to Türkiye, while rallies by the terrorist groups irked Ankara. In September, a Swedish court rejected the extradition of a PKK sympathizer to Türkiye.

Several prominent figures of FETÖ, which was behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Türkiye, were also sighted in Sweden, including Harun Tokak, a potential successor of FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen.

Sweden’s bid has also been stranded in Hungary’s Parliament since last year, with the ruling nationalists saying there is no threat to Sweden’s security and citing undue Swedish allegations that they have eroded democracy in Hungary.

Source: Daily Sabah