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What's in Sweden's Nato deal with Turkey and what happens next?

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What's in Sweden's Nato deal with Turkey and what happens next?
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson holds a press conference after Sweden struck its historic Nato deal with Turkey. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

On the eve of today's Nato summit in Vilnius, Turkey's apparently insurmountable opposition to Sweden's Nato membership suddenly evaporated and a deal was done. What happened, and does it really mean Turkey will ratify membership?


What happened? 

You'd be forgiven for thinking that all of that hard rhetoric from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Quran burnings and PKK terrorists in the months leading up to today's summit was just setting the scene for yesterday's pre-summit spectacle. 

Erdogan threw his final curveball just before leaving Ankara to travel to Nato's summit in Vilnius, saying he was willing to approve Sweden's Nato membership, but only if the EU reopened it's long-stalled talks over Turkish EU membership. 

As a result, he was granted a hastily-called meeting with Charles Michel, the President of the EU Council, on top of his scheduled two-hour meeting with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

After that, the deal was done

It was a very similar course of events to what happened at Nato's last summit in Madrid on June 29th. Then, too, Turkey's seemingly implacable opposition to Swedish and Finnish membership melted away almost as soon as the summit had began. 

What's in the new deal? 

Not very much that wasn't in the so-called Trilateral Memorandum agreed in Madrid. The seven-point joint statement issued by Nato following the meeting goes through the actions Sweden has taken to fulfil the terms of the Madrid deal. 

"Sweden has amended its constitution, changed its laws, significantly expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK, and resumed arms exports to Turkey, all steps set out in the Trilateral Memorandum," the statement reads. 

Sweden and Turkey then pledge to continue their cooperation on security, both under the Trilateral Permanent Joint Mechanism set up after Madrid, and under a new bilateral "Security Compact" which will meet annually at ministerial level. 

Sweden also commits to continuing to work with Turkey on counter-terrorism, promises not to put in place any restrictions, barriers or sanctions to defence trade, and agrees to step up economic cooperation. 

In a nod to Erdogan's new EU demand, Sweden also commits to "actively support efforts to reinvigorate Turkey’s EU accession process, including modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and visa liberalisation".


What's not in the new deal but perhaps important? 

On Tuesday morning, the US's National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that President Joe Biden now planned to push ahead with the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, working with the US Congress to approve the deal. 

Sullivan said that Biden "had been clear that he supports the transfer". 

"He has placed no caveats on this ... He intends to move forward with that transfer," he said.

Some commentators have suggested Turkey's opposition to Sweden's Nato membership was really always mainly about putting pressure on the US to deliver these long-awaited jets. 


Will Erdogan keep his word after the summit and will membership get ratified? 

As the deal was done in Madrid to let Sweden and Finland move forward to the ratification stage of Nato accession, Erdogan went back to blocking Swedish membership, making impossible demands that Sweden extradite a long list of people he claimed were linked to the PKK and the Gülen Movement he blames for Turkey's 2016 coup attempt.

Might this happen again after the Vilnius summit? 

Stoltenberg and Kristersson both stressed that it was up to Turkey to set its own timetable for ratification. 

"We agreed that it should be done as quickly as possible, but then it's up to Turkey to decide how their parliamentary timetable looks, so I don't dare to make any guesses about what specific day it will happen, but everyone is expecting a rapid ratification," Kristersson told Swedish state broadcaster SR on Tuesday morning. 

At the press conference after the deal, Stoltenberg had said it was not up to him to set the timetable for Turkey's timetable, but in a tweet he said that Erdogan had agreed that Turkey would "ensure" that Sweden's membership was ratified and that this would happen "as soon as possible". 

How soon could Turkey's parliament meet to ratify Swedish membership? 

Turkey's Grand National Assembly could still be able to vote to ratify Swedish membership by the end of the parliamentary programme on July 18th, if the process follows that taken when it approved Finland's membership.

According to an article by CNN's Turkish site, the decision to vote on Sweden's membership needs to first be approved by the country's Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Affairs, then it can be submitted to a vote on the floor of the Grand National Assembly. The ratification will become official once the bill is published in the Resmi Gazete official journal, signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

If Turkey's parliament does not ratify by July 18th, however, it may not be able to do so until it starts its next session in September.


What about Hungary? 

Although the focus has been on overcoming Turkey's opposition to Sweden's membership, it is not the only one of the Nato alliance's 31 member states yet to ratify. Hungary, which like Turkey has close links to Russia, has also held back. 

On Tuesday morning, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary's ratification was now "only a technical question". 

Prime Minister Viktor Orban re-iterated last Friday that Budapest supports Sweden's bid, but was waiting for a Turkish decision. 

"We are in continuous contact with both the Nato secretary general and the Turks," he said. "If we see that we have something to do we will do it. Hungary is not famous for dithering if we have to make a decision."

What will Sweden bring to Nato? 

By joining Nato, Sweden, with its 10.5 million population, is ending an era of more than two centuries of staying outside military alliances, even though its neutrality formally ended in the 1990s.

While the country heavily cut military spending after the end of the Cold War, Sweden reversed course after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea, and, among other things, reinstated mandatory military service.

Its armed forces have cutting-edge equipment, such as dozens of combat aircraft and five submarines.

Experts believe that Sweden's entry into the alliance, along with that of Finland which took effect in early April, offers better protection to the Baltic states, the former Soviet republics on NATO's northeastern flank.

By joining, Sweden has avoided becoming the only country bordering the Baltic Sea not to be a member of Nato -- apart from Russia.

The Swedish defence industry, with flagships such as Saab and the Bofors conglomerate, is expected to become an asset for the alliance.


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