Sweden will become a full NATO member by July this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expects, according to the German news agency DPA. Despite many political developments, he believes that Sweden’s membership will be confirmed this summer, following the approval of Turkey and Hungary.
According to the German press agency DPA, Jens Stoltenberg expressed the belief that Sweden will join the US-led military alliance as a full member in time for the next summit in Washington.
Stoltenberg’s statements can be seen in light of the fact that Turkey’s President Erdogan has for some time been pushing hard for the US to approve the delivery of F-16 aircraft to Turkey, which Turkey has more or less demanded in order to approve Sweden’s application. Meanwhile, the US and Turkish foreign ministers discussed Sweden’s NATO membership by telephone. Even then, Turkey is said to have stressed its expectation that the US would honor its commitments regarding the F-16 deal.
Turkey approved Sweden’s application through its foreign affairs committee last week, but formal ratification requires a vote in the Turkish parliament. The date for this vote has not yet been set, but once it is completed, President Erdogan’s signature will be required to officially approve Sweden’s entry into NATO.
In NATO country Hungary, the government and lawmakers have also expressed doubts about approving Sweden’s application.
Sweden's path to the NATO military alliance
Sweden applied for NATO membership, in parallel with Finland, on 18 May 2022. On 5 July of the same year, Sweden and Finland were formally granted invitee status. For Finland, the process was completed in April this year, when membership was finalized after Hungary and Turkey became the last NATO countries to ratify the country's application.
At the NATO summit in Vilnius in early July, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to send the Swedish application to parliament for ratification "as soon as possible". On October 23, the Turkish presidential office announced that Erdogan had signed and forwarded Sweden's NATO application to parliament.
On November 16, the issue was raised in the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, but the vote was postponed. On 26 December, the foreign affairs committee approved Sweden's application and forwarded it to the Grand Chamber of the Parliament.
Neither Turkey nor Hungary has ratified Sweden's application. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has previously said that the country will not be the last to approve Sweden.