June 18, 2024

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish parliament would ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO if the U.S. approves the sale of its F-16 fighter jets to Ankara, Reuters reported on Sept. 26.

Erdogan told reporters on his flight back from Azerbaijan that Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan discussed the issue of Sweden’s NATO aspirations with U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken in New York last week.

According to the Turkish president, the Biden administration is linking the F-16 sales to Ankara’s approval of the Swedish NATO bid.

“If they (the U.S.) keep their promises, our parliament will keep its own promise as well. Turkish parliament will have the final say on Sweden’s NATO membership,” Erdogan said.

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Both Sweden and Finland applied to join the Alliance in May 2022 due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Turkey initially blocked both of their bids but gave the green light to Helsinki in this year’s March.

Among the main reasons why Ankara denied Stockholm’s entry was the Swedish support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

Erdogan seemingly conceded to back Sweden’s bid and forward it to the Turkish parliament on July 10 after meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

A day after the announcement, the Biden administration said that it would move forward with the sale of F-16s to Turkey. Ankara requested to buy $20 billion of F-16 aircraft and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes from the U.S. in October 2021.

Since then, neither the ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid nor the sale of the jets have been finalized.

Sweden also waits for a green light from Hungary, another NATO member that has not approved Stockholm’s accession to the alliance so far.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Sept. 25 that Budapest is in “no rush” with the ratification, suggesting further delays before the Nordic country can join the military bloc.

Read also: Hungarian Foreign Minister: Hungary’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid ‘only a technical issue’

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