ANKARA: The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Thursday postponed a vote on Sweden’s NATO membership bid, further damaging the Scandinavian country’s hopes of joining the Western alliance after an 18-month wait.
Chairman Fuat Oktay said the commission, controlled by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party, will hold further discussions and may put the bill back on the agenda next week, but did not set a clear timeline.
“All our MPs need to be fully convinced to approve Sweden’s membership in NATO. Oktay, in his statement to journalists after hours of discussion, said, “We will discuss all these (on the issue) at our (next) commission meeting.”
The commission can pass bills by a simple majority. Oktay added that if necessary and parliamentary regulations allow, he could invite the Swedish ambassador to brief the MPs.
Erdogan said this month he would try to facilitate the approval process, but added that Sweden had not taken enough precautions against Kurdish militants.
To be approved, the bill must be approved by the committee before being put to a full parliamentary vote, which could be days or weeks later. Erdogan would later sign the law to complete the process, whose length has frustrated Ankara’s allies and tested its Western ties.
Sweden and Finland requested to join NATO in May last year, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At the time, Erdoğan also objected to demands from Northern countries to protect people Turkey deemed terrorists and to impose defense trade embargoes. Türkiye approved Finland’s offer in April but kept Sweden waiting.
Turkey has demanded that Sweden take further steps to rein in local members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States.
In response, Stockholm introduced a new anti-terrorism bill that would make membership in a terrorist organization illegal and also lift arms export restrictions to Turkey. He says he has ratified his part of the agreement signed last year.
Despite comments by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akçapar outlining the measures taken by Sweden, both the ruling AK Party and opposition MPs expressed their reservations and postponed the vote, albeit in rare cases.
“I value NATO expansion. However, we also need to eliminate some debates in our minds. AK Party deputy Ali Şahin said that Sweden has become a safe haven, a paradise, for some terrorist organizations.
“We find the steps taken by Sweden so far valuable, but we do not find them sufficient,” he said.
news source (www.brecorder.com)