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Turkish parliament approves Sweden’s NATO bid

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Turkish lawmakers attend a vote on Sweden’s NATO bid at the Grand National Assembly in Ankara, Türkiye, on Jan. 23, 2024. Turkish lawmakers on Tuesday approved a long-delayed bill on Sweden’s bid to become the 32nd member of NATO. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)

ANKARA, TURKEY | Xinhua | Turkish lawmakers on Tuesday approved a long-delayed bill on Sweden’s bid to become the 32nd member of NATO.

The Turkish parliament voted on the bill after a debate in the Grand National Assembly. A total of 346 lawmakers participated in the voting, with 287 votes in favor, 55 against, and four abstentions.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to sign the bill into law within a few days.

Turkish parliament’s ratification was welcomed by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. “Today we are one step closer to becoming a full member of NATO,” he wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

With Türkiye’s ratification, Hungary remains the only NATO member country that hasn’t approved Sweden’s application to join the military alliance.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO after Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine in 2022. Their accession requires the unanimous approval of all members of NATO.

Türkiye approved Finland’s NATO bid in March last year but has slow-walked Sweden’s accession, demanding the Nordic country further address Ankara’s security concerns.

In October last year, Erdogan signed Sweden’s NATO accession protocol and submitted it to the parliament for ratification.

The foreign affairs committee of the Turkish parliament approved Sweden’s NATO bid following deliberation in December last year, in a key step to put it to a full parliamentary vote.

Türkiye has been under pressure from the United States to approve Sweden’s accession to NATO, but Ankara was holding up its ratification to press Washington to allow the sale of F-16 fighter jets. ■

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