Turkey’s parliament approves Sweden’s NATO membership, lifting a key hurdle

People shout slogans on Tuesday during a protest against the Sweden's NATO membership called by Turkish Vatan, or Patriotic Party, in Istanbul, Turkey. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish legislators on Tuesday endorsed Sweden’s membership in NATO, lifting a major hurdle on the previously nonaligned country’s entry into the military alliance.

Lawmakers ratified Sweden’s accession protocol 287 to 55, with ruling party members saying the Nordic country’s tougher stance on Kurdish militants was key to winning approval. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also previously has linked the ratification to Turkey’s desire to buy fighter jets from the U.S.


The ratification comes into effect after its publication in the Official Gazette, which was expected to be swift.

Hungary then becomes the only NATO ally not to have ratified Sweden’s accession.

“Today we are one step closer to becoming a full member of NATO,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. In Washington, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan welcomed the news, saying having Sweden in the alliance will make it “safer and stronger.”

NATO-member Turkey had been delaying Sweden’s membership for more than a year, accusing the country of being too lenient toward groups that Ankara regards as security threats. It sought concessions from Stockholm, including moves to counter militants.

Turkey also had been angered by a series of demonstrations by supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in Sweden as well as Quran-burning protests that roiled Muslim countries.

Sweden in the past was a “center in Europe” for the PKK, Fuat Oktay, a senior legislator in Erdogan’s governing party and the head of the foreign affairs committee, told parliament.

But since then, Sweden has amended its anti-terrorism laws, curbed the PKK’s financial activities, convicted a terrorism suspect and extradited another, and lifted restrictions on arms sales to Turkey, Oktay said.

“PKK-affiliated circles no longer find a comfortable room for maneuver in Sweden as they did in the past,” Oktay said, explaining why the ruling party was now supporting Stockholm’s bid.

Sweden pledged deeper cooperation with Turkey on counterterrorism, as well as support for Turkey’s ambition to revive its EU membership bid.

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