Turkey approves Sweden's NATO membership bid after 20-month delay

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(VOVWORLD) - Turkey's parliament ratified Sweden's NATO membership bid on Tuesday, clearing the biggest remaining hurdle to expanding the Western military alliance after 20 months of delay.
Turkey approves Sweden's NATO membership bid after 20-month delay - ảnh 1NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at a press conference in Stockholm on 7/3/2023 (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Turkey's general assembly, where President Tayyip Erdogan's ruling alliance holds a majority, voted 287-55 to approve the application that Sweden first made in 2022 to bolster its security in response to Russia's operation in Ukraine.

All NATO members need to approve applications from countries seeking to join the alliance. When Sweden and Finland asked to join in 2022, Turkey raised objections over what it said was the two countries' protection of groups it deems terrorists.

It endorsed Finland's membership in April last year but, along with Hungary, had kept Sweden waiting.

US Ambassador Jeff Flake said in a written statement on Tuesday that Turkey's "commitment to the NATO Alliance clearly demonstrates our enduring partnership."

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom also welcomed the Turkish parliament's approval. "We now look forward to President Erdogan signing the ratification document," Billstrom said in a written statement.

Erdogan is expected to sign the legislation within days, leaving Hungary - whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban has friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin - as the only member state not to have approved Sweden's accession.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the Turkish move and said: "I also count on Hungary to complete its national ratification as soon as possible."