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US approves F-16s for Turkey, moving Sweden NATO membership closer
Turkey's ratification makes Sweden one step closer to NATO | Europe In :60

US approves F-16s for Turkey, moving Sweden NATO membership closer

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from Stockholm.

How are things proceeding with the ratification of the Swedish membership in NATO?

Well, it’s been some back and forth. But now Turkey has ratified and that is important. That has to do with also the agreement with the US on deliveries of F-16s and modification kits of F-16s and deliveries of F-35s to Greece. A major package has been negotiated, so that should be okay. Now, remaining with Hungary. Prime Minister Orban is a slightly unpredictable fellow, but I would guess that he can't hold off for very long. So I would hope, expect this process to be wrapped up within a couple of weeks.

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FILE PHOTO: A Turkish F-16 pilot taxis past another Turkish Air Force F-16 at the 3rd Main Jet Air Base in central Turkey's city of Konya.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey gets F-16s, Greece gets F-35s, and Sweden gets one step closer to NATO

Alliances involve a delicate dance. Turkey’s parliament formally approved Sweden’s entry into NATO last week, finally removing the biggest impediment to Stockholm’s accession. In exchange, the US State Department has notified Congress it will now approve the sale of 40 F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, plus kits to modernize Ankara's existing “Vipers.” Not a bad deal, but Turkey really wants what its rivals/allies across the Aegean are getting: the F-35.

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FILE PHOTO: The President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speak at a press conference in Berlin on November 17th, 2023.

ddp/Andreas Gora via Reuters

Still no Swedish meatballs at the NATO cantina

Just days after the Swedish foreign minister said he was confident his country would join NATO “within weeks,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has thrown up another roadblock.

If you’re counting, the process has now dragged on for more than 18 months, as Turkey and Hungary are the two NATO member holdouts blocking Sweden’s formal accession to the alliance.

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