Turkey has finally submitted a bill approving Sweden’s application for Nato membership to its parliament for ratification—but there is no guarantee it will be moved to a vote quickly.
There is no set timeframe for ratification. The bill will be placed on the agenda of the legislature’s foreign affairs commission. Only after that commission passes the drafted legislation will it come before the general assembly.
The process gives Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ample opportunity to continue to frustrate Turkey’s Nato allies with more delays to ratification should he wish to do so in pursuit of payoffs. The issue most commonly cited in this area is the demand for US congressional approval for a $20bn sale of F-16 jets and modernisation kits to Ankara, but Erdogan could also be pressing for other rewards-for-ratification from the Western powers behind the scenes. Turkey is currently in a spat with the US over its military operations against US-allied Kurdish groups in Syria and is walking a diplomatic tightrope in addressing the Gaza crisis. Erdogan could have demands relating to both of these complex matters and others.
In July, Erdogan announced at a Nato summit that he would send the ratification bill to parliament when it reopened on October 1, having previously raised objections over Sweden's alleged harbouring of Kurdish terrorists who pose a threat to Turkey. Sweden has denied harbouring terrorists but has moved to tighten its terrorism laws.
"The Protocol on Sweden's NATO Accession was signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 23, 2023 and referred to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey," the Turkish presidency said on social media platform X without elaborating.
Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson welcomed the move. He tweeted that Stockholm was looking forward to attaining Nato membership, saying: "Now it remains for the parliament to deal with the question."
Sweden as well as Finland applied to join the transatlantic defence bloc last year following Russia's February invasion of Ukraine. Finland's membership was granted in April. Sweden's bid has been held up by Turkey and Hungary. Hungary’s demands in return for ratification are yet to be clearly spelled out.