Turkish parliament set to discuss ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s parliamentary speaker sent a bill approving Sweden’s NATO membership bid to parliament’s foreign affairs commission on Wednesday, the assembly’s website showed, in another step towards its final ratification.

President Tayyip Erdogan submitted the bill ratifying Sweden’s membership of the NATO military alliance to parliament on Monday after delaying doing so for months.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year, ditching long-held policies of military non-alignment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland’s membership was sealed in April, in a historic expansion of the alliance, but Turkey and Hungary held off from approving Sweden’s application.

Turkey said Sweden must first take measures against supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and members of a network Ankara holds responsible for a 2016 coup attempt. Turkey treats both groups as terrorist organisations.

Sweden approved a new anti-terrorism law in July.

The Turkish bill must be approved by the foreign affairs commission before the parliament’s general assembly formally ratifies it and Erdogan signs it into law.

There is no specific time frame for parliament to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership. The commission chair and then the speaker will decide when the bill is discussed.

Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmus voiced hope on Tuesday that it would come to parliament’s general assembly “as soon as possible.”

The bill’s preamble said Sweden’s NATO membership would contribute to the security of the “Euro-Atlantic region”, including Turkey.

It recalled a July 10 meeting of Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania at which the Turkish leader agreed to forward to parliament Stockholm’s bid to join the alliance.

In that meeting, Sweden promised to provide a roadmap to Turkey regarding implementation of commitments recorded in a memorandum signed last year, establishing a bilateral security cooperation mechanism at the ministerial level and to support Turkey’s European Union accession process, the preamble said.

(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Daren Butler and Gareth Jones)