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Sweden reveals complication in NATO talks — Analysis

Turkey has repeatedly raised the issue of photos of Swedish MPs waving PKK flags, Stockholm’s foreign minister said

Talks with Turkey on Sweden’s accession to NATO have become more difficult, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Saturday. The reason is that photos of left-leaning Swedish politicians posing in July with flags from a Kurdish organisation Ankara considers terrorist have led to this increase in difficulty.

Following a series intense negotiations, Turkey agreed that it would support the accessions of Stockholm and Helsinki into the US-led Military bloc. This was subject to Ankara’s demands that they clamp down on terrorist organizations. Among them are Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activists who sought asylum in the two Nordic states, and followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. The process of implementing the accord, signed at the NATO summit, is still being considered.

Linde told Aftonbladet that talks had become difficult after Left Party Swedish MPs were caught waving PKK flags in July at Almedalen Week Festival, an annual political forum, on Gotland.

The minister said that Turkey had been raising the issue incessantly, and it has gained considerable attention from the Turkish media. Linde said that Sweden insists that “Principios of freedom speech and expression” allow for such a demonstration, adding, however, that the Swedish government deems such behavior “Very inappropriate.”

Her comments come after Sweden, Finland, and Turkey held talks on Friday on the implementation of the trilateral agreement entailing Ankara dropping its objections to the two countries’ NATO bids.

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The agreement addressed Turkey’s concerns regarding the arms embargo on Ankara and activities pursued by Kurdish militants within the two nations’ borders. Stockholm and Helsinki also signaled they were ready to extradite dozens of Kurdish fighters living on their soil, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declaring that Sweden had “promised” to deport “Terrorists: 73.”

Earlier this month, Sweden’s Justice Ministry announced that it would extradite a Turkish national wanted for fraud to his home country in the first such case since Stockholm consented to Ankara’s deportation demands.

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