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Türkiye’s Objection to Sweden’s NATO Bid: Concessions and its Final Path into the Alliance

Written by Pol Navarro i Serradell

Edited by Stef Clement

Supervised by Paul Dybjer

More than a year has passed since Finland and Sweden jointly submitted their applications to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on 18 May 2022. Since then, neither of the countries has achieved their desired outcome of swiftly becoming a member of NATO. Unlike Sweden, Finland initially faced a veto from Türkiye. However, this block was eventually lifted following multiple rounds of negotiations, after which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recognised that the issue of ‘Kurdish terrorist activity in Finland had been addressed’ (Wintour, 2023).

In the case of Sweden, Türkiye waited until the eve of the NATO Summit in Vilnius to lend its support, likely to exert maximum pressure on Stockholm. This gesture comes after months of lengthy negotiations between the two countries. The matter holds importance for Ankara due to national security concerns, particularly regarding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). More precisely, the negotiations were focused on Türkiye’s accusations of Sweden harbouring PKK’s former members, along with the lift of arms sales restrictions imposed by Finland and Sweden. Although Sweden made several gestures to appease Ankara, these efforts appeared to be insufficient to convince Türkiye to provide its support. Nevertheless, Sweden unexpectedly attained its objective on 10 July 2023: Erdoğan agreed to pass Sweden’s bid for Alliance membership to the Turkish parliament. Considering this negotiating scuffle over Sweden’s NATO bid, this Info Flash aims to overview the events surrounding Türkiye’s opposition and analyse the concessions that have changed Türkiye’s view of Sweden’s membership.