Sweden’s government to present NATO bill to parliament in March

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Sweden’s government will present a NATO accession bill to parliament in March, its foreign minister said on Wednesday, though the timing for membership still depends on both Turkey and Hungary backing the bid.

“The government intends to introduce the bill on Sweden’s NATO membership in March,” Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in a speech outlining the government’s foreign policy priorities for the year.

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Sweden and Finland both applied to join the trans-Atlantic military alliance last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the process has been held up by Turkey.

Ankara wants Stockholm in particular to take a tougher line against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terror group by Turkey and the European Union, and another group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

Hungary’s parliament will debate ratification later this month and is expected to give its support.

Turkey has said it might be willing to accept Finland as a NATO member.

But friction with Sweden has increased in recent weeks, not least after a protest in Stockholm when a far-right politician burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

Sweden’s accession process is currently on ice and progress is unlikely before Turkey’s presidential election, slated for May, but which could be postponed due to massive earthquake which hit the country and neighbor Syria earlier this month.

Finland’s parliament has yet to formally approve the government’s application.

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