Türkiye is willing to hold off ratifying Sweden’s bid to join NATO this month as it awaits signs of U.S. support for its own request to buy F-16 jets, sources said, potentially disappointing bloc allies hoping to end 17 months of delay.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan elated a NATO summit in July by promising to send the bid to Turkey’s parliament for ratification when it reopened in October, appearing to green-light Sweden after having raised objections over its alleged harboring of terrorists.
However since parliament opened on Oct. 1, its foreign affairs commission, which would debate the NATO bid, has received almost 60 international agreements to review – excluding Sweden’s, official data shows.
Two people familiar with the situation said Ankara wanted to move in tandem with Washington, where the State Department is expected at some time to seek congressional approval for a $20-billion sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey and dozens of modernization kits.
“Given the lack of trust over the issue of F-16s and Sweden, Turkey is not rushing to ratify the NATO bid and looking for a sign that the United States is taking steps at the same time,” said an official from Erdoğan’s ruling AK Party.
A second person familiar with U.S.-Turkish talks said a rough proposal – in which each side would take steps toward ratifying the NATO bid on the one side, and the F-16s purchase on the other – had been delayed.