Recently, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed to send Sweden’s NATO accession to the Turkish parliament, which was one of the big things standing in Sweden’s way of joining.
However, this doesn’t mean that it is a done deal and that Sweden will join the coveted security alliance.
Here is a comprehensive look at Sweden’s NATO journey so far, including when it could be joining the alliance and the countries that have been hesitant about welcoming the nation.
— Sweden at NATO (@SwedenNato) October 25, 2023
When did Sweden’s journey to join NATO begin?
Sweden and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have had a close relationship over the decades, carrying out exercises together, cooperating in operations, and sharing information.
Sweden has been one of the five EU countries that is not a part of the alliance. However, it has been a member of the Partnership for Peace since 1994.
In 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden decided to change their stance on the matter and join the alliance.
While their accession protocol was quickly ratified by most states, some have been apprehensive about letting Sweden join NATO.
How long before Sweden could join?
Before any new country can join NATO, all the current member-states would need to ratify the country’s request to become an official member.
In line with this, Sweden has been awaiting ratifications from two nations. If the votes go ahead as planned, Sweden could become a member in 2024.
Which countries have blocked or objected to Sweden joining?
While almost all the NATO member-states were quick to ratify Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, Turkey and Hungary have repeatedly communicated their hesitation about the matter.
Turkey has mainly been unwilling to approve the request, saying that the Quran burnings and the continuous Islamophobic protests in Sweden were unacceptable. In response, Sweden has introduced an anti-terrorism law, promised to help update the EU-Turkey Customs Union and secure visa liberalisation, and support Turkey’s effort to restart EU membership negotiations.
Recently, on October 23, President Erdogan approved Sweden’s pending NATO membership bid, sending it to the Turkish parliament for ratification.
Hungary, on the other hand, has insisted that they would not be approving Sweden’s membership request until Turkey had made its decision. So, following Turkey’s move, all eyes will be on Hungary.