Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has submitted a protocol for Sweden’s admission into NATO to Turkiye’s parliament for ratification, his office said on October 23, bringing the Nordic country a step closer to membership in the military alliance.
Mr. Erdogan had been delaying ratification of Sweden’s membership, accusing Stockholm of being too soft on Kurdish militants and other groups his country considers to be security threats. Turkiye also was angered by a series of Quran-burning protests in Sweden.
All 31 NATO allies must endorse Sweden’s membership. Turkiye and Hungary are the only two allies that have yet to ratify it.
A brief statement from the presidential communications directorate said Mr. Erdogan had signed the protocol on Sweden's NATO accession, which was then submitted to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. It was not known when Sweden’s membership would come to the floor.
Sweden welcomed the move.
“Glad to hear that Turkish President Erdoğan has now handed over the ratification documents to the Turkish Parliament," Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. "Now it remains for Parliament to deal with the issue. We look forward to becoming a member of NATO.”
Sweden and its neighbour Finland abandoned decades of military nonalignment and sought protection under NATO's security umbrella after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine in February 2022. Finland joined the military alliance in April after Turkiye lifted its objections to its membership, saying Helsinki had taken steps to address Ankara's security concerns.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who had urged Turkiye earlier this month to quickly ratify Sweden's membership, also hailed the moves Monday.
“I look forward to a speedy vote to ratify, and to welcoming Sweden as a full NATO ally very soon,” he said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “As I told President Erdogan when we spoke on the weekend, this will make the whole Alliance stronger and more secure.”
Erdogan had dropped his opposition to Sweden's membership at a NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital in July, but still delayed sending the protocol to parliament for ratification.
Turkiye lifted its opposition after U.S. President Joe Biden's administration signalled it would let Turkiye buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits from the United States. Ankara also received assurances from Sweden that it would help revive Turkiye’s own quest to join the European Union.
Under the deal, NATO as an organization agreed to address Turkiye’s concerns about terrorism. Stoltenberg said he had appointed an assistant secretary general to serve as his special coordinator for counter-terrorism.