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Shaheen, Tillis Issue Joint Statement Recognizing Türkiye’s Contributions to NATO and Urging Swift Approval of Sweden’s NATO Accession Protocols

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), Co-Chairs of the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group, issued the following joint statement after meeting with the Turkish delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to commend Türkiye’s contributions to NATO and European security and calling on Türkiye’s to swiftly approve NATO accession protocols for Sweden: 

“Türkiye is an important NATO Ally and we appreciate its meaningful contributions to the Alliance as well as their steadfast diplomatic and humanitarian support for Ukraine,” the Senators said. “That said, we are concerned by the Turkish Parliament’s decision to delay a vote to ratify Sweden’s NATO accession bid. Despite Sweden having fulfilled its side of its agreement with Türkiye and despite twenty-eight out of thirty NATO members ratifying its bid, Türkiye’s timeline for ratification keeps slipping. It’s beyond time for the Türkiye to advance accession protocols without further delay.” 

The Senators continued, “Sweden will bring unique capabilities to the Alliance that will better enable us to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s threats. It’s also critical that Sweden be included in the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington. NATO has stood resolutely in support of Ukraine as Vladimir Putin continues to wage his unprovoked, illegal war. By welcoming a new member that shares a commitment to democracy and peace in Europe, the Alliance will remain united in holding Putin accountable. We should be ringing in the new year with 32 NATO Allies and a toast to Sweden as our newest member. Hungary and Turkiye should move without delay to make Sweden’s membership a reality.” 
Shaheen and Tillis met on December 7 with a delegation of Turkish representatives to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly including Türkiye’s Head of Delegation and former Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu. As co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which they re-started together in 2018, the Senators lead bipartisan efforts in the Senate in support of the transatlantic Alliance and as Sweden seeks accession into NATO. In February 2023 Senators Shaheen and Tillis led a letter to the Biden Administration making clear that the Senate will not consider Türkiye’s request for F-16 aircraft until Türkiye ratifies Sweden’s NATO accession. Photos from this meeting can be found here

As co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, Shaheen and Tillis led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in a joint statement of support and a letter to President Biden calling for Finland and Sweden’s swift accession into NATO in response to the respective nations announcing their intent to join the transatlantic Alliance. The Senate NATO Observer Group, re-established by Shaheen and Tillis in 2018, has an expanded mission to closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability, NATO enlargement and the ability of NATO member states to address unconventional warfare threats. Shaheen is a leading voice in U.S.-European relations as well as American foreign policy in the Black Sea region. In October, Shaheen and Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE), chaired a subcommittee hearing on implementation of the Department of State’s strategy on security in the Black Sea region.