Ankara is still demanding that Stockholm hand over suspects it considers terrorists, a Turkish official has said
Turkey is still not ready to lift its veto and support Sweden’s NATO bid, a spokesman for the leading AK party, Omer Celik, said on Monday. Promises from Stockholm in connection with Ankara’s concerns about granting 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’re waiting for it to come to life.”
Turkey halted the process of approving Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO, which were submitted in May. Both nations sought to join the military bloc following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Ankara previously warned it could block the bids, accusing the two nations of harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups it considers terrorist organizations.
In early October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that his nation was ready to support Finland’s bid, adding that “Finland is not a country where terrorists roam freely.”
A week ago, Reuters reported that Sweden had informed Türkiye that it was ready to work with Ankara on the extradition of terrorist suspects and said it had taken additional measures against Kurdish militants. Stockholm is also said to have said it is “fully committed to the implementation” of the memorandum signed by Sweden, Finland and Turkey in June.
On Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said his nation has “full respect for the fact that each country in the alliance makes its own decisions,” adding that he had recently spoken with Erdogan by phone and that the two “agreed that I would come to Ankara”. and I will announce the exact date once it is formally confirmed.”
The Prime Minister is expected to visit Turkey sometime next week. The statements also come ahead of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit to Turkey 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 no longer has any restrictions on arms exports to Turkey and has also established a cooperation mechanism in the areas of intelligence sharing and combating international terrorism.
So far, only two NATO members have not ratified the Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden: Turkey and Hungary. According to Stoltenberg, in the Hungarian parliament, ratification is on the agenda “this autumn”.