Turkey Blocks Early Vote on Sweden and Finland Joining NATO

Hours after Sweden and Finland officially launched their bids to join NATO, Turkey blocked an early vote

Turkey stepped in to block an early move to fast-track the two countries’ requests, demanding they extradite “terrorists,” and demanding NATO respects its concerns. 

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg accepted the two historically non-aligned countries’ membership requests yesterday, saying he warmly welcomed the requests and that the two countries are NATO’s closest partners. Stoltenberg hailed it as a “historic step,” and said it was a “good day at a critical time for our safety.” 

However, Turkey later blocked the hopeful fast-track vote and suggested the first stage of the accession process may take longer than the two weeks that NATO had planned. 

New members of NATO must be approved by all of the alliance’s 30 members, and then ratified by their parliaments. The process takes up to a year. 

NATO said it wanted to move as quickly as possible to allow Sweden and Finland to join, due to potential Russian threats to both nations. 

Stoltenberg said Nato will take into account the security interests of all member nations, and that NATO is determined to work through issues to reach rapid conclusions. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told MPs of his AK party that NATO needs to respect his reservations, stating that NATO expansion is only meaningful for Turkey in proportion to the respect that will be shown to Turkey’s sensitivities. 

Turkey has accused Sweden and Finland of harboring members of Kurdish militant groups, which Turkey considers to be terrorist organizations. Turkey also objects to decisions made in 2019 to ban arms exports to Ankara over Turkey’s military operations in Syria. 

Erdoğan accused Sweden in particular of providing safe haven to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is banned, and to followers of Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016. 

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