Sweden has the potential to accelerate the membership procedure by taking steps in collaboration with the U.S. and Canada
So far, Sweden has received approval from 29 out of 31 countries for NATO membership. Türkiye put a hold on Sweden’s NATO membership, citing its support for the PKK terrorist group as a reason. Hungary, stating that there is no threat to Sweden’s security, expresses that it will shape its stance according to Türkiye’s decision. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban declares that Budapest is not in a hurry to approve the membership.
At this critical point where the process is stalled, the first step for Sweden’s NATO membership was taken in the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday. The Accession Protocol was approved by a majority in the Foreign Affairs Committee. However, the process has not been completed yet. The final decision will be made by Parliament. The schedule for the discussion is not yet clear.
Already, bringing up this issue in the current context is not at all appropriate. Just before the vote, PKK terrorists in northern Iraq launched an attack and martyred 12 Turkish soldiers. The public mood is tense and sensitive.
Their concerns are valid throughout. The PKK terrorists who attacked Turkish soldiers are operating under the command and control of the United States, the leader of NATO. This is not just a claim anymore. The PKK is officially funded through financial aid allocated in the U.S. budget. Despite Türkiye’s longstanding membership in the Atlantic Pact since 1952 and possessing the alliance’s second-largest army, Washington refuses approval for the sale of Patriots, F-35s and even F-16s. However, there is no hesitation in supporting the PKK. The weapons utilized by the organization in their terrorist activities are the latest in NATO technology.
Just a week before the attack in which our soldiers were killed, there were reports in the press that the U.S. military force in Syria and the PKK/YPG terrorist organization had conducted joint exercises in Hasakah. Defense Minister Yaşar Güler had also issued a statement expressing reaction to the U.S.
In such an atmosphere, it is very difficult for the parties in Parliament to say yes to a decision perceived as an imposition by the U.S. in the General Assembly.
Sweden shifts stance
We are aware that Sweden is abandoning the tolerance it has shown to the PKK terrorist organization in the past. Although the effects are limited, they have made regulations that need to be taken seriously. However, if those in Stockholm consider the membership vital, they are obliged to do more to show that they value the lives and security of Turkish citizens.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a statement on the plane upon his return from his recent visit to Hungary, said: “As you know, we sent Sweden’s NATO membership and accession protocol to the Turkish Parliament. The issue of Sweden also came up in my meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. We also evaluated the F-16 issue between the U.S. and us in this context. In the meeting, he expressed, ‘You pass it through the Parliament, and I will pass it through Congress in the same way.’ Let U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and our Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan handle this process simultaneously. If we manage this simultaneously, we will have a much easier chance of passing it through our Parliament. Another complicating factor in the parliamentary process is the negative attitudes of Canada and some allies in defense procurement … All of these are interconnected. Positive developments that we are expecting regarding both the United States’ F-16 issue and Canada keeping its promises, I believe, will accelerate our Parliament’s positive stance on the matter. On the other hand, there are promises made by Sweden to us in Vilnius. We are expecting these to be fulfilled and closely monitoring the developments.”
In short, Sweden can expedite the membership process through initiatives with the U.S. and Canada.
Source: Daily Sabah