STOCKHOLM, April 4 (Reuters) - Sweden's path to NATO membership remains blocked by Turkey and Hungary as neighbour Finland officially joined the 30-member alliance on Tuesday after its application was ratified in record time. Analysts do not expect Turkey to ratify Sweden's application until after Turkey's May 14 election at the earliest. Even then, it is unclear what would trigger a change of heart by President Tayyip Erdogan. Hungary is seen following Ankara's lead.

What was the last time a country blocked another country from joining NATO? Turkey blocked Sweden from joining NATO over concerns that Sweden was harbouring what Turkey considered to be terrorists, what was the last time a country did this?

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    Russia ensure Ukraine cold not become a NATO member by establishing contested boundaries. That may not be what you had in mind :-) Commented Jan 30 at 4:24

1 Answer 1


Macedonia (today North Macedonia) was blocked by Greece in 2008 (over the dispute over Macedonia's name). (Macedonia was officially renamed North Macedonia in February 2019, then joined NATO in March 2020.)

Georgia and Ukraine were blocked by France, Germany, and others in April 2008 (Bucharest Summit) from joining the Membership Action Plan (a key step in eventual accession).

Malta was in (or around) 1964 blocked by the UK and most other countries, according to a 1964 UPI article:

while Malta would like to join NATO, NATO doesn't want Malta.

Great Britain, which originally backed Malta's membership, has withdrawn her support. Most other NATO members are dead set against it.

One British official wrote in 1963,

From the Foreign Office point of view, we are in principle opposed to enlarging the membership of NATO. ... The already large number of members gives rise to numerous problems in the process of making decisions. ...

In the particular case of Malta, there would be problems of its size and its economic weakness. NATO has had only too much experience of being asked to deal with the economic problems of Greece and Turkey; they would not welcome having to deal with those of Malta as well. ... In fact, Malta can make very little positive contribution to the Alliance and ... the possibility of an extreme left-wing Government emerging in Malta would raise ... the unattractive prospect of security problems.

See also Malta Today (2014):

A memorandum by former Prime Minister George Borg Olivier presented to Cabinet on 10 March 1965 shows that the Maltese government was considering the closure of the NATO headquarters in Malta.

This was one of five options Borg Olivier's administration was considering in reaction to the military alliance's refusal to admit Malta as a full member.

Less clear cases of "blocking":

Finland was initially blocked (or at least held up) by Hungary and Turkey, but joined NATO in April 2023.

Sweden as you mention was "blocked" by Turkey (until late January 2024) and is currently still "blocked" by Hungary (as of late January 2024), but I suspect this "blockage" will soon be cleared.

West Germany was initially blocked (or at least held up) by France, but joined NATO in May 1955.

Cyprus is arguably blocked by Greece and Turkey (over the Cyprus Problem).

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    Turkey ratified Sweden’s accession a week ago. Only Hungary is holding it up. Commented Jan 30 at 8:01
  • @EmilJeřábek: Thanks for pointing out that error. Now corrected.
    – user103496
    Commented Jan 30 at 8:19

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