Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared all the way back in July that his country's longstanding objection to Sweden's entry into NATO had been reverse. This was seen as the beginning of Sweden's accession, and yet now as the year's end approaches, it still hasn't happened.
Certain legal and procedural hurdles remained within Turkish parliament, but it has delayed a final vote, leading to fears that Erdogan's government is stalling due to the Israel-Gaza War.
Erdogan just a week-and-a-half ago in an incredibly awkward joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin attacked the West for allowing Israel to slaughter civilian men, women and children in Gaza. He even went so far as to say at the time that what Israel is doing is against the Jewish religion.
"Shooting hospitals or killing children does not exist in the Torah, you can't do it," Erdogan said. He also strongly suggested that Germany is too afraid to direct any criticisms against Israel because of the history of the Holocaust.
"I speak freely because we do not owe Israel anything. If we were indebted, we could not talk so freely," he had said. "Those who are indebted cannot talk freely. We did not go through the Holocaust, and we are not in such a situation." He's also directly lashed out at Israel, calling the country "out of its mind" for the war in Gaza.
So it seems clear that a furious Turkish president is indeed stalling on Sweden's accession over the Gaza issue. In light of this, the Untied States and France are making a new push for Turkey to come through on finalizing approval.
NATO Foreign Ministers are currently meeting in Brussels. At the meeting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan that Swedish membership must be ratified "as soon as possible".
And French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna appealed to a sense of NATO strength and unity: "The strength and credibility of our alliance are at stake. We must not lose another day," she said.
Amid the delay, the timing of an upcoming trip by Erdogan is also interesting:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Hungary's capital in December, his second trip to Budapest this year at a time when both countries remain the only NATO members not to have ratified Sweden's accession into the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
#NATO wanted to raise the Swedish flag today but Erdogan continues to dither on approval with no end in sight.— Teri Schultz (@terischultz) November 28, 2023
Meanwhile, Sec Gen Stoltenberg is again treating 🇹🇷 with kid gloves, repeatedly underscoring its terrorism concerns even as he notes Sweden has fulfilled its pledges. pic.twitter.com/uSmNpENkF8
Hungary has recently lashed out at Stockholm for telling "blatant lies" concerning the state of Hungary's democratic system. Turkey, on the other hand, has charged Sweden with hosting 'terrorists' - a reference to Kurdish and PKK dissidents and activists who are allowed to live in Sweden.
Sweden has taken a number of steps in the face of Turkish criticisms, including extraditing Kurdish suspects 'wanted' by Turkey. Ankara has even demanded at times that Sweden restrict free speech, in order to crackdown on pro-Kurdish, anti-Erdogan demonstrations on its soil.
Not helping matters, and adding fuel to Turkey's anger, are also the recent words of the leader of the ultra-conservative Sweden Democrats' Jimmie Åkesson, who argued that Swedish authorities must be handed the power to requisition and demolish mosques that are proven to be used to promote messages incompatible with Western values.