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Explainer: Why Turkey's Erdogan finally initiated Sweden’s NATO ratification

Turkish officials caution that ratification of Sweden's accession to NATO is not a done deal and that the process remains littered with challenges.
VILNIUS, LITHUANIA - JULY 11: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the opening high-level session of the 2023 NATO Summit on July 11, 2023 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The summit is bringing together NATO members and partner countries heads of state from July 11-12 to chart the alliance's future, with Sweden's application for membership and Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine as major topics on the summit agenda. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sent Sweden’s NATO accession to the Turkish parliament, ratification may not be a done deal, as Turkish officials say domestic developments in Turkey and Sweden could still complicate the final step. 

After more than a year of objections, Erdogan submitted the proposal to the parliament earlier this week. According to a well-placed Turkish source in Ankara who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, the submission had initially been planned for early October, but was delayed after a suicide bombing at the headquarters of Turkey’s national security directorate by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The attack, which left two police officers wounded and the two assailants dead, took place hours before the new legislative session started at the Turkish parliament, about 300 meters away.

With many Turks still accusing the United States and European Union countries of being aligned with the PKK’s Syrian offshoot within the anti-ISIS coalition, submitting the Swedish proposal to the parliament would have looked bad for Erdogan. Also, US forces shot down a Turkish drone in northern Syria on Oct. 5 during large-scale Turkish airstrikes in response to the Ankara attack, adding insult to injury. 

“If we are still open to submitting the Swedish case to the parliament at such a time, everyone should be grateful,” the Turkish source told Al-Monitor. 

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