Sweden Edges Closer to NATO After Vote in Turkish Parliamentary Commission

  • VOA News

    December 27, 2023 08:23

    The Turkish parliament's foreign affairs commission approved Sweden's NATO membership bid on Tuesday, in a key step toward enlarging the Western bloc after 19 months of delays in which Ankara demanded security-related concessions from Stockholm.
    The commission, controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party, voted to back the bid -- which Sweden made last year in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- after some four hours of debate, including talks on other matters. It had postponed a vote on the bid after an earlier debate. 
    The next step is a vote in the parliament general assembly, where Erdogan's party also holds a majority. It is also expected to pass there in a vote that could be held within weeks. Erdogan would then sign it into law, concluding a process that has frustrated some of Ankara's allies and tested its Western ties.
    Commission head Fuat Oktay played down expectations for a speedy vote in the general assembly, telling reporters in parliament that the parliament speaker would decide on a timing for the vote.
    "The decision to submit it to the general assembly has been made now, but this should not be interpreted as [a sign] that it will pass the general assembly with the same speed. There is no such thing," Oktay said. Parliament is set for a two-week recess in early January.
    Erdogan's AK Party, its nationalist MHP allies, and the main opposition CHP voted in favor of ratification, while the small Islamist Felicity party and right nationalist Iyi party voted against it.  
    Turkey's parliament chamber is seen after lawmakers voted in favor of Finland's bid to join NATO, in Ankara, Turkey on March 30, 2023. /AP
    The Turkish parliament's foreign affairs commission approved Sweden's NATO membership bid on Tuesday, in a key step toward enlarging the Western bloc after 19 months of delays in which Ankara demanded security-related concessions from Stockholm.
    The commission, controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party, voted to back the bid -- which Sweden made last year in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- after some four hours of debate, including talks on other matters. It had postponed a vote on the bid after an earlier debate. 
    The next step is a vote in the parliament general assembly, where Erdogan's party also holds a majority. It is also expected to pass there in a vote that could be held within weeks. Erdogan would then sign it into law, concluding a process that has frustrated some of Ankara's allies and tested its Western ties.
    Commission head Fuat Oktay played down expectations for a speedy vote in the general assembly, telling reporters in parliament that the parliament speaker would decide on a timing for the vote.
    "The decision to submit it to the general assembly has been made now, but this should not be interpreted as [a sign] that it will pass the general assembly with the same speed. There is no such thing," Oktay said. Parliament is set for a two-week recess in early January.
    Erdogan's AK Party, its nationalist MHP allies, and the main opposition CHP voted in favor of ratification, while the small Islamist Felicity party and right nationalist Iyi party voted against it. 
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