Turkish parliament won’t speed up Sweden’s NATO bid -committee chair

By Huseyin Hayatsever

ANKARA (Reuters) – The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee will discuss ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership bid as part of its regular agenda as the issue was not so urgent for Ankara as for some other countries, its chair said on Wednesday.

President Tayyip Erdogan submitted the ratification bill for Sweden’s NATO membership bid to parliament last month, a move welcomed by Stockholm as it would clear the way for it to join the Western defence alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said he wants a “speedy vote” by Turkey’s parliament and that the process was “going well”. But parliament’s foreign affairs committee chair Fuat Oktay said Turkey was in no hurry.

“Sweden’s NATO membership is just one of the international agreements on our agenda waiting for ratification,” Oktay told a meeting of lawmakers. “We will discuss it when the time comes … within the framework of our own priorities… What is urgent for others is not necessarily urgent for (us).”

The Sweden NATO membership bill must be approved by the committee before a vote by the full parliament, at which point Erdogan would sign it into law.

Long-neutral Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year to bolster their security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland’s membership was sealed in April, but Sweden’s bid had been held up by Turkey and Hungary.

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.

Sweden’s bid has been stranded in Hungary’s parliament since last year, with the ruling nationalists saying there is no threat to Sweden’s security and citing what they call undue Swedish allegations that they have eroded democracy in Hungary.

(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; editing by Jonathan Spicer and Mark Heinrich)