Sweden to Become Nato Member as Turkey's Erdogan Drops Objection

Turkey will endorse Sweden's bid to join Nato, the military bloc's chief Jens Stoltenberg has said. The development comes more than a year after Stockholm launched its bid to join the Western security alliance. Stoltenberg said Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will forward Sweden's bid to parliament in Ankara and ensure the proposal is ratified.

Diplomatic Tussle

Sweden and Turkey were locked in a diplomatic tussle over Stockholm's bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato). Under Nato laws, all members of the bloc must ratify a new member's application, but Turkey had said it will hold off on the applications of Sweden and Finland over what it says these countries' support to the Kurdish movement.

Jens Stoltenberg
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

"I am very happy, it is a good day for Sweden," Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said, according to the BBC.

Stoltenberg, who announced the agreement in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, said the development was a 'historic step'. The Nato chief, however, did not say when exactly Sweden would join the security bloc.

Kurdish Question

It is not clear yet how Sweden and Turkey resolved their differences that had long blocked the ratification. Stoltenberg said Turkey and Sweden had addressed Turkey's 'legitimate security concerns'. The BBC report adds that Sweden has made changes including a constitution amendment and other changes in law that expand its counter-terrorism operation against the PKK Kurdistan Workers' Party.

Map of Nato countries
Map of Nato countries wikimedia commons

The Kurdish groups in Sweden have long campaigned against Stockholm capitulating to the demands of Erdogan, who has been hunting down the minority group throughout the region. The PKK fights for a Kurdish nation in a region intersecting Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Ankara considers PKK, which fought the Turkish state for the creation of an independent Kurdish territory, as a terror organization.

The Kurdish rights groups have been stepping up pressure on Stockholm in recent months, after the Erdogan regime started pressing for tough measures against Kurdish activists in Sweden. The Kurds in Sweden say that giving in to Turkish demands violates human rights and that Ankara will only keep pressing for more such measures.

Biden's Win?

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden hailed the Turkish decision to endorse Sweden's Nato bid. "I stand ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey on enhancing defence and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd Nato ally," Biden said, according to a White House statement.

Sweden and Finland sought to join Nato in May last year, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In both the countries, which had remained largely neutral in order to maintain cordial ties with the eastern neighbor, the public sentiment changed in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is not a NATO member.

Finland officially became a Nato member in April, becoming the bloc's 31st member. Sweden's membership will take Nato's strength to 32.