Sweden expects Turkey to ratify its NATO membership “within weeks”

November 29, 2023

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom announced Wednesday that Turkey said it expects to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO as the 32nd member nation within weeks. 

“I had a bilateral with my colleague, the (Turkish) Foreign Minister… where he told me he expected the ratification to take place within weeks,” Billstrom said Wednesday during a second day of meetings among member nations’ Foreign Ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels. 

Though there was no immediate confirmation or comment from Turkish officials, Turkey agreed in July to admit Sweden into NATO, according to the alliance’s Secretary General. Jens Stoltenberg said at the time that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had “agreed to forward the Accession Protocol for Sweden to the Grand National Assembly as soon as possible and work closely with the assembly to ensure ratification.”

Sweden ended a 200-year policy of neutrality when, along with neighbor Finland, it applied to join NATO back in May, 2022 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of that year.

However, while Finland officially joined the military alliance in April of this year, Sweden’s membership has been held up by Turkey over a dispute surrounding the treatment of anti-Islam activists and pro-Kurdish groups inside Sweden.

A nation’s membership application must be approved unanimously, and Turkey was the last of NATO’s then-30 nations to ratify Finland’s membership—breaking that Nordic country’s 100 years of neutrality. 

On day one of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he and his counterparts would be “strongly reaffirming our support for Ukraine as it continues to face Russia’s war of aggression.”

The U.S. is set to host the NATO summit in Washington this coming July, during which the largest global military alliance will celebrate its 75th anniversary. 

PHOTO: Sweden’s Tobias Billstrom with Antony Blinken at NATO meeting Wednesday

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