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6 Dec, 2022 09:06

Ankara reiterates demands to NATO aspirants

Sweden and Finland have to take “concrete steps” to fulfill their counter-terrorism promises to Türkiye, the defense minister said
Ankara reiterates demands to NATO aspirants

Türkiye insists that NATO aspirants Sweden and Finland must deliver on their promises to crack down on suspected terrorists, primarily the supporters of Kurdish militias, before Ankara would consider their bids to become members, the Turkish defense minister has said.

“There are commitments signed by Sweden and Finland … they must be fulfilled,” Hulusi Akar said as quoted by the Anadolu news agency on Tuesday.

“After these are done, the Turkish parliament will make its decision. We are also trying to help Sweden and Finland,” he added.

Akar is set to meet his Finnish counterpart, Antti Kaikkonen, when he visits Ankara later this week.

Helsinki and Stockholm applied for NATO membership in May, claiming that the move was prompted by the Russian military operation against Ukraine. Türkiye said it will not accept their bids unless they address its concerns about the alleged condoning of terrorists on their soil.

Turkish officials were referring to opponents of their government finding shelter in the Nordic nations, primarily the supporters of Kurdish militias. Ankara claimed that European nations were allowing such people to provide financial support for groups allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a movement that fought a decades-long guerrilla war against Türkiye.

The three nations signed a memorandum, in which Sweden and Finland pledged to review their counter-terrorism policies and Turkish requests for the extradition of suspected terrorists.

“We are closely following the situation in Sweden and Finland. Unfortunately, we still see some provocative actions and images in these countries. We expect both Sweden and Finland to take concrete steps,” Minister Akar told reporters.

Convicted terrorist Mahmut Tat was jailed in Türkiye last week after being extradited from Sweden. He had been sentenced to six years and ten months by a Turkish court in 2015 for involvement with the PKK, Turkish media said.

In November, Swedish lawmakers passed an amendment to the constitution, which would toughen up laws related to terrorism.