Turkey’s Erdogan takes key step toward ratifying Sweden’s NATO admission

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has submitted a protocol for Sweden’s admission into NATO to Turkey’s parliament for ratification, his office said Monday, bringing the Nordic country a step closer to membership in the military alliance.

Erdogan had been delaying ratification of Sweden’s membership, accusing Stockholm of being too soft on Kurdish militants and other groups his country considers to be security threats. Turkey also was angered by a series of Quran-burning protests in Sweden.

READ MORE: NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg presses Turkey to advance Sweden’s membership application

All 31 NATO allies must endorse Sweden’s membership. Turkey and Hungary are the only two allies that have yet to ratify it.

A brief statement from the presidential communications directorate said Erdogan had signed the protocol on Sweden’s NATO accession, which was then submitted to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. It was not known when Sweden’s membership would come to the floor.

Sweden welcomed the move.

“Glad to hear that Turkish President Erdoğan has now handed over the ratification documents to the Turkish Parliament,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Now it remains for Parliament to deal with the issue. We look forward to becoming a member of NATO.”

Sweden and its neighbor Finland abandoned decades of military nonalignment and sought protection under NATO’s security umbrella after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine in February 2022. Finland joined the military alliance in April after Turkey lifted its objections to its membership, saying Helsinki had taken steps to address Ankara’s security concerns.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who had urged Turkey earlier this month to quickly ratif y Sweden’s membership, also hailed the moves Monday.

“I look forward to a speedy vote to ratify, and to welcoming Sweden as a full NATO ally very soon,” he said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “As I told President Erdogan when we spoke on the weekend, this will make the whole Alliance stronger and more secure.”

READ MORE: Turkey agrees to send Sweden’s NATO accession protocol to Parliament swiftly

Erdogan had dropped his opposition to Sweden’s membership at a NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital in July, but still delayed sending the protocol to parliament for ratification.

Turkey lifted its opposition after U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration signaled it would let Turkey buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits from the United States. Ankara also received assurances from Sweden that it would help revive Turkey’s own quest to join the European Union.

Under the deal, NATO as an organization agreed to address Turkey’s concerns about terrorism. Stoltenberg said he had appointed an assistant secretary general to serve as his special coordinator for counter-terrorism.

Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

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