Ankara won’t support the Nordic nations’ NATO membership bids until they resolve their alleged support for terrorism
Sweden and Finland have rejected Turkey’s request for the extradition of people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Gulen movement (FETO), Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported on Monday. These groups are considered terrorist organizations by Ankara, and Turkey has threatened to block Sweden and Finland’s bids for NATO membership unless they clamp down on their operations.
According to the report, Turkey’s justice ministry had requested the extradition of six FETO and six PKK members from Finland in the past five years, as well as 10 FETO and 11 PKK members from Sweden. The ministry considers all 33 suspects “terrorists.”
Extradition requests for 19 of these terrorist suspects were rejected, five were ignored, and the extradition process for nine – two in Finland and seven in Sweden – is ongoing, the report continued.
Finland and Sweden announced on Sunday that they had officially decided to file for membership of the NATO alliance, renouncing decades – or in Sweden’s case, centuries – of neutrality following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February. The US and allies promise a speedy decision. However, accession to the NATO alliance by the Nordic nations requires unanimous approval from all thirty member countries. Turkey threatened not to support this.
Turkish President Recep Tyyip Erdogan called Sweden & Finland “guesthouses for terrorist organizations”Tell reporters Friday “it is not possible for us to be in favor”They are members.
Erdogan’s adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, told Reuters a day later that the president’s comments primarily referred to Sweden, which has supported the Kurdish YPG, the PKK’s Syrian branch, during the Syrian civil war, and which has six sitting Kurdish members of parliament. Turkey’s military has been deployed in Syria and Iraq to combat Kurdish militants several times over the years.
“We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey,” Kalin explained. “What needs to be done is clear: They have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organizations, individuals and other types of presence to… exist in those countries.”
NATO leadership is confident that it can assuage Turkey’s concerns. “Turkey is an important ally and expressed concerns that are addressed between friends and allies,”On Sunday, Mircea Geoana was NATO’s Deputy Secretary-General. “I am confident if these countries [Finland and Sweden] decide to seek membership in NATO, we will be able to welcome them, to find all conditions for consensus to be met.”