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17 Nov, 2022 09:55

Sweden changes constitution to crack down on terrorism

The amendment was necessary to win Türkiye’s approval for the nation’s NATO bid
Sweden changes constitution to crack down on terrorism

The Swedish parliament has passed a constitutional amendment that will allow it impose restrictions on freedom of association. A crackdown on suspected terrorists was demanded by Türkiye as a condition for accepting the country’s bid to join NATO.

The change was supported on Wednesday by 278 MPs in the 349-seat Riksdag. It paves the way for future legislation aimed at combatting terrorism, and is widely perceived as a concession to Türkiye, which has long accused Sweden of sheltering fugitive terrorists on its soil and failing to eradicate their fundraising networks.

Türkiye’s complaints have centered on alleged supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which fought a decades-long guerrilla war against the government. Ankara said it would not accept Sweden’s bid to join NATO unless it changes its policies, effectively preventing accession. 

The Swedish amendment was already voted on in April, before the country filed its NATO membership request. Swedish law requires any change to the constitution to be approved by lawmakers twice, with a general election held between the votes to give the public the opportunity to change the composition of the parliament. The new version of the constitution will come into force starting next year.

Sweden asked NATO to accept it as a member along with Finland. Both claim they need to become part of the US-led military bloc due to the ‘threat’ posed by Russia.

Ankara has the power to stop either nation’s accession under NATO rules. It voiced similar complaints about suspected terrorists finding shelter in Finland. The three parties signed an agreement under which Sweden and Finland pledged to address Türkiye’s concerns.