Turkey approves Sweden’s NATO membership bid

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Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday ratified Sweden’s NATO membership after more than a year of delays that upset Western efforts to show resolve in the face of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Lawmakers voted 287-55 in favor of the Nordic nation’s bid to become the 32nd member of the alliance after it won the public backing of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish leader is expected to sign Sweden’s ratification document and conclude Ankara’s role in the protracted saga in the coming days.

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Turkey’s green light leaves Hungary as the last holdout in an accession process that Sweden and Finland began in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.

Ankara forced the northern neighbors to split up their applications after finding fault with Sweden and approving Finland after a few rounds of talks.

Finland’s membership last April doubled the length of NATO’s border with Russia and boosted the defenses of three tiny Baltic nations that joined the bloc following the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

Sweden and Finland pursued a policy of military non-alignment during the Cold War era between the Soviet Union and the West.

But the Ukraine war upturned geopolitical calculations and forced the two to seek the nuclear protection afforded by the world’s most powerful defense bloc.

Hungary has followed Turkey’s lead throughout the NATO accession process and was expected to approve Sweden’s without significant resistance.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday invited his Swedish counterpart to Budapest to discuss the bid.

But hints emerged on Tuesday of strains between Stockholm and Budapest.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said he saw “no reason” to negotiate with Hungary about Stockholm’s NATO candidacy “at this point.”

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