Sweden's NATO membership depends on recognition of Palestine, Erdoğan's ally Bahçeli says

Turkey’s ultra-nationalist government ally MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli on Dec. 8 said that the party would accept Sweden’s NATO membership in the Parliament depending on the organization’s stance on the Palestine issue. 

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The ultra-nationalist ally of the Turkish government, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Dec. 8 has said the party would vote in favor of Sweden’s NATO membership in the Parliament only if the organization took certain steps about the Palestine conflict. 

In an interview with the pro-MHP newspaper TürkGün, Bahçeli said the party would accept Sweden’s NATO membership given that the organization recognized the independent Palestinian state, Israel paid reparations, and Netanyahu’s Lahey trial was made possible. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed the protocol on Sweden’s NATO membership and sent it to the Parliament for a vote the previous month. 

It is yet to be determined when the parliament will vote on the proposal. 

“Of course, we are reluctant towards Sweden’s NATO membership. Insulting our book (the Quran) and oppressing Muslims are the same to us,” Bahçeli said, referring to the Swedish right-wing politician Rasmus Poludan’s 2023 Quran burning protest. 

Bahçeli added that Sweden’s inclusion into the organization would make no difference, and Turkey was one of the strongest three members of NATO. 

“We would like to remind anyone waiting for Sweden’s membership of their more pressing responsibilities regarding the conflict in Palestine,” stated the party leader. 

Sweden formally applied for NATO membership in 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Turkey and Hungary voted against the country’s membership, citing Sweden’s insufficient efforts “against terrorism.” 

Upon increased efforts from both parties, President Erdoğan signed the protocol for Sweden’s membership during the 2023 NATO summit in Estonia and relayed the final decision to the Parliamentary vote. 

Since Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has 263 parliamentary seats out of 600, the ratification of Sweden's NATO bid will require the support of other ruling coalition parties to reach the majoirty in case the opposition will vote against it.