Turkey tells NATO that Sweden won’t join by next week’s meeting – sources


Ankara/Brussels (Reuters) – Turkey has informed NATO that ratification of Sweden’s membership bid will not be completed in time to allow the country’s accession ceremony at a meeting of alliance foreign ministers next week, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Last week, the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission delayed a vote on Sweden’s NATO membership bid in order to hold further talks on the subject.

The commission will likely resume its debate on the matter on Tuesday or Wednesday, one of the sources said. NATO foreign ministers will meet in Brussels on those days, Nov. 28-29, a gathering that some in the Western defence bloc had hoped would mark Sweden’s accession.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Both Sweden and Finland had requested to join NATO in May last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

President Tayyip Erdogan raised objections at the time to both requests over what he said was the Nordic nations’ protection of those who Turkey deems terrorists, as well as their defence trade embargoes. Turkey endorsed Finland’s bid in April, but has kept Sweden waiting.

Turkey has demanded that Sweden take more steps to rein in local members of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.

In response, Stockholm introduced an anti-terrorism bill that makes membership of a terrorist organisation illegal, while also lifting arms export restrictions on Turkey. It says it has upheld its part of a deal signed last year.

For ratification, the bill needs to be approved by the Turkish foreign affairs commission before being put to a full parliament vote, which could come days or weeks later. Erdogan would then sign it into law to conclude the process, the length of which has frustrated Ankara’s allies and tested its Western ties.

While NATO member Hungary also has not ratified Sweden’s membership, Turkey is seen as the main roadblock to Sweden’s accession.

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