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Turkish lawmakers approve Swedish NATO bid after long delay

The Turkish parliament gave its approval for Sweden's NATO bid months after President Erdogan withdrew his opposition

The Turkish parliament gave its approval for Sweden's NATO bid months after President Erdogan withdrew his opposition

Turkey's parliament approved Sweden's entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to sign it into law within a few days, leaving Hungary as the only NATO member state not to have approved Sweden's membership.

Erdogan had previously opposed Sweden's bid, casting doubt on the Scandinavian state's accession to the alliance, but he made a U-turn last summer and gave the go-ahead.

Sweden 'one step closer' to NATO membership

Lawmakers voted 287-55 in favor of the Nordic nation's bid to become the 32nd member of the alliance after it won public backing from Erdogan.

Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson welcomed the decision as a positive step.

"Today we are one step closer to becoming a full member of NATO," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the move by Turkey to ratify Sweden's membership of the military alliance, adding that he would "count on Hungary to complete its national ratification as soon as possible."

The German government said the Turkish parliament's approval of Sweden's accession to NATO was "an important and correct decision.

"Sweden's imminent accession, like Finland's already completed accession, will further strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance as a whole," government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

"The German government assumes that the accession process can now be completed quickly," he added.

The United States also praised the move. "We welcome the Turkish parliament's vote approving Sweden's application to join NATO," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on X, adding that Sweden would make the alliance "safer and stronger."

Hungary has not ratified Sweden's accession yet

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in 2022 in response to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.

Finland joined the Western military alliance in April last year — vastly expanding Russia's land border with the alliance.

However, Turkey and Hungary delayed their approval for Sweden, effectively vetoing its entry as all new member states must be agreed unanimously.

Erdogan has been able to pressure Sweden into taking a tougher stance against Kurdish groups based in Stockholm that Ankara views as "terrorists."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday invited his Swedish counterpart to Budapest to discuss the bid.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said he saw "no reason" to negotiate with Hungary about Stockholm's NATO candidacy "at this point".

Sweden's membership would make the entire Baltic coastline NATO territory, except for the Russian coast and its exclave Kaliningrad.

zc,dh/lo,ab (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)