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In shift, Erdogan links Sweden’s NATO accession to Turkey's F-16 acquisition

On eve of his Greece visit, and after insisting for months that Sweden's pending NATO membership and Turkey's purchase of F-16s should be separate, Erdogan is now linking the two outcomes.
The Soloturk aerobatic demonstration team of the Turkish Air Force flies an F-16 aircraft over Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Turkish Republic's Founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey in Ankara, on October 29, 2023. Turkey marked its centenary as a post-Ottoman republic on October 29, 2023, with somewhat muted celebrations held in the shadow of Israel's escalating war with Hamas militants in Gaza. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by ADEM ALT

ANKARA —  In a reversal of his position during the last two months, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday openly linked Sweden’s accession to NATO, which is pending ratification by the Turkish parliament, to Ankara’s request to buy new F-16 fighter jets from the US.

“If you have a Congress, we have a Congress too, that’s our parliament. There is nothing to say until our parliament’s final decision. As the president, I submitted [Sweden’s accession protocol] to the parliament, and you thanked me. I fulfilled my duty, but I also expect something from you: You pass [F-16 deal] in your Congress so that we can take these steps simultaneously,” Erdogan urged Washington in a reference to the Turkish bid to buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets and roughly 50 modernization kits from the US. 

His comments came on his return from Qatar, before his formal visit to Greece on Thursday, the first since 2017.

The remarks are the first public acknowledgement of Turkey’s linking the F-16 jets to Sweden's NATO accession. Commentators and analysts have long noted this connection, but the link has been denied by Ankara until Erdogan’s remarks. 

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