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13 Jun, 2023 16:23

Türkiye to maintain block on Sweden joining NATO – Bloomberg

Ankara believes Stockholm must do more to address its concerns, the media outlet has said
Türkiye to maintain block on Sweden joining NATO – Bloomberg

Türkiye is unlikely to signal its readiness to agree to Sweden’s accession to NATO at an upcoming meeting of officials from Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland later this week, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing sources. Ankara believes that Stockholm needs to do more to comply with its conditions ahead of the bloc’s summit in July, according to the outlet.

Representatives of the three nations will meet in the Turkish capital on Wednesday to discuss the Swedish NATO bid.

Last summer, the two Nordic nations agreed to address Ankara’s concerns in exchange for Türkiye’s consent to their accession to the US-led military bloc.

Türkiye approved Finland’s bid in March but believes that Sweden has still not done enough to resolve the bilateral security issues. Ankara particularly wants Stockholm to fully implement its recently adopted anti-terrorism law, which entered into force on June 1, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Sweden argues that adopting the law was enough to fulfill its obligations under last year’s deal with Türkiye, according to the news outlet. On Monday, the Swedish government said it would extradite a man suspected of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to Türkiye. Ankara considers the PKK a terrorist group.

Last week, the Swedish prosecutors filed terrorism-financing charges against another suspect, who allegedly sought to extort money on behalf of the PKK. According to Bloomberg, Turkish officials did not respond to the media outlet’s request for comment on Sweden’s obligations.

Other NATO nations are urging Ankara to approve Sweden’s bid before the military bloc’s summit scheduled for next month. In early June, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the Nordic nation had fulfilled all the entry criteria and made “significant concrete steps” to meet Ankara’s demands.

The NATO summit will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11 and 12. All 31 NATO members must endorse a candidate country before it can become a member. Türkiye and Hungary have yet to do so in the case of Sweden.

Sweden and Finland renounced their long-standing stances of neutrality to apply to join the US-led bloc in the summer of 2022. The move prompted Türkiye to demand that the two countries lift arms embargoes on Ankara, extradite alleged Kurdish terrorists, and curtail the activity of the PKK within its borders.

Rallies in Sweden early this year, including one that featured the burning of a Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, prompted Ankara to question Sweden’s commitments to addressing Turkish demands. The Swedish authorities then barred anti-Islam activists from burning the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy the following month.