Sweden’s path to NATO membership has been cleared as Turkey has given its approval to their bid

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has endorsed Sweden’s bid to join NATO, thus paving the way for Sweden to become a member of the military alliance.

On the eve of the two-day NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the completion of Sweden’s NATO accession as a significant and historic step. Stoltenberg emphasized that it would bolster security for all NATO allies, reinforcing our collective strength and safety.

After a year of blocking the move and approving Finland’s bid first, Erdogan has now given his approval for Sweden’s NATO membership.

Ankara’s objections primarily revolved around Sweden’s support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists, as well as the weapons embargoes imposed by Sweden, Finland, and other EU countries due to Turkey’s actions against Kurdish militias in Syria.

The delay triggered protests in Sweden’s capital against Turkey, which intensified earlier this year when far-right demonstrators set fire to a Quran. This action was quickly condemned and posed a threat to Sweden’s NATO membership bid.

NATO acknowledged that Sweden and Turkey have worked closely together to address Turkey’s security concerns since the previous summit held last year.

The statement highlighted that Sweden has made constitutional amendments, implemented changes in its laws, significantly enhanced counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party), and resumed arms exports to Turkey. The PKK is an organization that Ankara has designated as a terrorist group.

Both nations have also recognized that counterterrorism cooperation is a long-term endeavor that will persist even after Sweden’s accession to NATO.

U.S. President Joe Biden commended the progress, expressing his readiness to collaborate with President Erdo─čan and Turkey to strengthen defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic region.

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William Courtney, an adjunct senior fellow at RAND, stated that Turkey’s approval of the bid had been anticipated for a while, particularly if Erdogan were to be reelected for a third term, as he would no longer need to utilize the issue to rally nationalist support.

Before the elections in Turkey in May, the presidential spokesperson of the country stated in March that Ankara had “kept the door open” for Stockholm’s bid to join the military alliance.

Courtney added that the inclusion of Finland and Sweden as members along Europe’s eastern flank could significantly bolster NATO’s strength and make the military alliance “much stronger.”

“The inclusion of Finland, particularly in the northern flank, introduces an entirely new capability for NATO along the eastern frontier,” stated Courtney.

Source : cnbc.com