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29 Aug, 2022 14:15

Sweden reveals complication in NATO talks

Turkey has repeatedly raised the issue of photos of Swedish MPs waving PKK flags, Stockholm’s foreign minister said
Sweden reveals complication in NATO talks

Talks with Turkey on Sweden’s accession to NATO have become more difficult, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Saturday. This is due to photos having emerged in July showing several left-wing Swedish parliamentarians posing with flags of a Kurdish organization Ankara considers terrorist.

In June, following a series of intense negotiations, Turkey agreed to formally back the accession of Stockholm and Helsinki to the US-led military bloc on the condition that they crack down on groups that Ankara has designated terrorist organizations. Among them are Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activists who sought asylum in the two Nordic states, and followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. Deliberations on how to implement the agreement, which was signed during the NATO summit in Madrid, are still ongoing.

Speaking to the newspaper Aftonbladet, Linde indicated that the talks on the matter had become more complicated after Swedish MPs from the Left Party were filmed waving flags of the PKK in July at the Almedalen Week festival, an annual political forum held on the island of Gotland.

According to the minister, Turkey has been constantly raising this issue, which has also gained a lot of traction in the Turkish media. Linde said that Sweden insists that “principles of freedom of speech, expression” allow for such a demonstration, adding, however, that the Swedish government deems such behavior “quite inappropriate.”

Her comments come after Sweden, Finland, and Turkey held talks on Friday on the implementation of the trilateral agreement entailing Ankara dropping its objections to the two countries’ NATO bids.

The agreement addressed Turkey’s concerns regarding the arms embargo on Ankara and activities pursued by Kurdish militants within the two nations’ borders. Stockholm and Helsinki also signaled they were ready to extradite dozens of Kurdish fighters living on their soil, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declaring that Sweden had “promised” to deport “73 terrorists.”

Earlier this month, Sweden's Justice Ministry announced that it would extradite a Turkish national wanted for fraud to his home country in the first such case since Stockholm consented to Ankara’s deportation demands.