Sweden says Turkey asking too much over NATO application

Sweden is confident that Turkey will approve its application to join the NATO military alliance, but will not meet all the conditions Ankara has set for its support, Sweden’s prime minister said on Sunday (8 January).

“Turkey both confirms that we have done what we said we would do, but they also say that they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a defence think-tank conference in Sweden.

Finland and Sweden signed a three-way agreement with Turkey in 2022 aimed at overcoming Ankara’s objections to their membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The two countries applied in May to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey objected and accused the countries of harbouring militants, including from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Finland and Sweden’s bids require the approval of all 30 NATO member states, including Turkey.

In June, Sweden and Finland agreed to take a number of steps to overcome Turkey’s objections, signing a three-way agreement.

One of Turkey’s demands was that Sweden and Finland extradite suspects Turkey seeks over terrorism-related charges, although the two Nordic countries have said they have not agreed to specific extraditions and that all requests will be dealt with according to domestic and international law.

At a news conference later on Sunday, Kristersson said the demands that Sweden could not or did not want to fulfil were outside the scope of the three-way memorandum.

“From time to time, Turkey mentions individuals that they want to see extradited from Sweden. To that I have said that those issues are handled within Swedish law,” he said.

Ankara expressed disappointment with a decision late last year from Sweden’s top court to stop a request to extradite a Bulent Kenes, a Turkish man who was chief editor of Today’s Zaman, with alleged links to Islamic scholar Fetullah Gulen, blamed by Turkey for the coup attempt in 2016.

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said the extradition could not be carried out in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling.

Turkey says that Sweden has not yet acted to extradite or freeze the assets of people that his country believes are linked to terrorism.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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