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1 Nov, 2022 17:11

Türkiye not ready to approve Sweden’s NATO bid

Ankara still demands that Stockholm extradite suspects it considers terrorists, a Turkish official has said
Türkiye not ready to approve Sweden’s NATO bid

Türkiye is still not ready to lift its veto and endorse Sweden’s NATO bid, a spokesman for the ruling AK Party, Omer Celik, said on Monday. Promises made by Stockholm in response to Ankara’s concerns about providing asylum to suspects it considers terrorists are not enough, he added.

“These statements from Sweden are good, but not enough until they are implemented,” Celik said, according to Bloomberg. “We are waiting for it to come to life.”

Türkiye stalled the process of approving the applications of Sweden and Finland to join NATO, which were filed in May. Both nations sought to join the military bloc following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Ankara earlier warned that it could block the bids, as it accused the two nations of harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups it considers to be terrorist organizations.

In early October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that his nation was ready to back Finland’s bid, adding that “Finland is not a country where terrorists are roaming freely.” 

A week ago, Reuters reported that Sweden informed Türkiye it was ready to work with Ankara on the extradition of terrorist suspects and said it had taken additional measures against Kurdish militants. Stockholm also reportedly said it remained “fully committed to the implementation” of the memorandum signed by Sweden, Finland, and Türkiye in June.

On Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said his nation has “full respect for the fact that every country within the alliance makes its own decisions,” adding that he had recently talked to Erdogan by phone and the two “agreed on me coming to Ankara and I will communicate the exact date when it is formally confirmed.” 

The prime minister is expected to visit Türkiye at some point next week. The statements also come ahead of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit to Türkiye this week. On October 20, he said he was “confident that all Allies will ratify the Accession Protocol,” opening the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Stoltenberg added that Stockholm does not have any restrictions on arms exports to Türkiye any longer and has also established a cooperation mechanism in the fields of intelligence sharing and fighting international terrorism.

So far, only two NATO members have not ratified the Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden: Türkiye and Hungary. According to Stoltenberg, in the Hungarian parliament, the ratification is on the agenda “this fall.”