NATO Will Soon Get a New Member

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Sweden is set to accede to NATO after almost two years of negotiations. Turkey, the last member holding out against its entry, has accepted Sweden’s application which can now move forward.

Sweden and its neighbor Finland remained neutral during the Cold War, hoping to keep Scandinavia out of hostilities in case the Cold War went hot. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made both countries rethink this, and they are now fully aligned with Western military forces. Reuters reports:

Turkey’s parliament ratified Sweden’s NATO membership bid on Tuesday, clearing the biggest remaining hurdle to expanding the Western military alliance after 20 months of delay.

Turkey’s general assembly, where President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling alliance holds a majority, voted 287-55 to approve the application that Sweden first made in 2022 to bolster its security in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey was blocking Sweden’s entry as leverage for its international policies. Chief among them, Sweden hosts Kurdish groups deemed terroristic by Turkey. Turkey has also leveraged its refugee population to extract concessions from Europe. Fox News explains how the hard bargained diplomacy was negotiated:

Sweden’s bid was held up for more than a year as Ankara accused the country of being too lenient on groups it regards as security threats.

Turkey has been seeking concessions from Stockholm, including a tougher stance toward Kurdish militants and members of a network that Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.

Sweden is not a direct neighbor to Russia, but is key to reinforce Finland should the worst happen. Its military-industrial complex is noteworthy by European standards. Sweden and Finland would currently be a net gain to NATO, but the temptation to reduce military spending after joining is there.

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