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Impatient NATO allies push Turkey over Sweden delay

NATO allies on Tuesday pressured Turkey to finally approve Sweden’s stalled bid to join the military alliance as impatience grows at Ankara over the delay. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan at a meeting of alliance foreign ministers that Sweden’s application should be ratified “as soon as possible”, his spokesman said. “The strength and credibility of our alliance are at stake. We must not lose another day,” said French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members yet to ratify Sweden’s bid, more than 18 months after it applied for membership. The Turkish parliament started this month to debate Sweden’s application to join after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched the process following a deal at a NATO summit in July. NATO’s other 29 allies, outside of Turkey and Hungary, had hoped to formally welcome Sweden into the alliance at the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels. But the process is still stuck at the committee level in the Turkish parliament. Sweden and Nordic neighbour Finland had dropped their long-standing policies of non-alignment and applied to join the US-led military alliance in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Finland became NATO’s 31st member in April. Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said Helsinki was “so disappointed” that Sweden had not yet been allowed to follow suit. “The membership of Sweden is highly crucial for the entire alliance and we hope that in the near future there will be further steps to be taken in that direction,” she said.

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