Turkey’s foreign minister to NATO: Sweden’s ratification expected before year-end

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Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told NATO counterparts on Tuesday he was working hard on Sweden’s NATO ratification which is currently being debated by the Turkish parliament and provided a likely timeline of before year-end for the Nordic country to formally join the alliance, a senior State Department official said.

“I will say the summary of the meeting was it will be done before the end of the year,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

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NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels. Some in the Western defense bloc had hoped Sweden’s ratification would be completed by now for an accession ceremony to take place on the sidelines.

But last week Reuters reported that Turkey informed the alliance that the Nordic country’s ratification would not be completed in time for Tuesday’s meeting.

During Tuesday’s meetings, Fidan told his NATO counterparts that he was working “hard” to get the issue resolved, the official said.

“He said a few weeks,” the official said, when asked if Fidan was able to provide a timeline for when the ratification process would be completed.

Both Sweden and Finland requested to join NATO in May last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan raised objections at the time to both requests over what he said was the Nordic nations’ protection of those whom Turkey deems terrorists, as well as their defence trade embargoes. Turkey endorsed Finland’s bid in April, but has kept Sweden waiting.

Turkey has demanded that Sweden take more steps to rein in local members of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.

In response, Stockholm introduced an anti-terrorism bill that makes membership of a terrorist organization illegal, while also lifting arms export restrictions on Turkey. It says it has upheld its part of a deal signed last year.

For ratification, the bill needs to be approved by the Turkish foreign affairs commission before being put to a full parliament vote. Erdogan would then sign it into law to conclude the process, the length of which has frustrated Ankara’s allies and tested its Western ties.

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