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Swedish lawmakers vote to endorse country joining NATO

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Swedish lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Wednesday in favor of Sweden joining NATO, signing off on the country's membership along with the required legislation.

The 349-seat Riksdagen, or parliament, authorized Sweden’s accession to NATO on a 269-37 vote, with 43 lawmakers absent. It was the last required domestic hurdle to the country becoming part of the 30-member Western military alliance.

Six of the eight parties represented in parliament were in favor of NATO membership, and the vote that followed a nearly seven-hour debate was seen as a formality.

“Membership in NATO is the best way to safeguard Sweden’s security,” Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said during the deliberations. He called it “a historical event” and “one of the most important security policy decisions ever for our country.”

Both Sweden and neighboring applied to join NATO in May 2022, abandoning decades of non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Two NATO countries, Turkey and Hungary, have yet to ratify the Nordic nations' joint application. Admitting new members requires unanimous approval from existing members.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that his government would move forward with ratifying Finland, paving the way for the country to join the alliance before Sweden. Erdogan said Sweden still must resolve the Turkish concerns that had delayed action on the joint application.

The Turkish government accused both Sweden and Finland of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organizations but expressed more reservations about Sweden. The government in Ankara d cited demonstrations on the streets of Stockholm by supporters of Kurdish militants.

A series of separate demonstrations in Stockholm, including a protest by an anti-Islam activist who burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy, also angered Turkish officials.

The Associated Press

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