Erdoğan warns that Turkey may still block Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO NATO
Just two days after agreeing to lift breach of contract objections to Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession, the Turkish president has warned that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries do not fully meet his expectations.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the end of the alliance’s summit in Madrid that the agreement on ten articles with the Nordic couple was a victory for Ankara and addressed all its “sensitivities”.
He emphasized in particular the satisfaction of Turkey’s demand that Sweden and Finland extradite terrorist suspects with links to banned Kurdish groups or the network of an exile priest accused of a failed coup in Turkey in 2016.
But Erdoğan added that if the two Nordic countries abdicate their promises, the Turkish parliament may refuse to ratify the agreement reached on Tuesday. NATO accession must be formally approved by all 30 member states, giving each one a right to block.
“This activity will not work if we do not approve it in our parliament,” Erdoğan said. “Firstly, Sweden and Finland must fulfill their obligations and they are already in the text … But if they do not fulfill them, then of course there is no way to send it to our parliament.”
Erdoğan claimed that Sweden had promised to extradite 73 “terrorists” to Turkey and crack down on the financing and recruitment activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – listed as a terrorist group by the US and EU – and linked groups. Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the PKK.
The text of the memorandum does not specify a specific number of extraditions. It states that Finland and Sweden will address Turkey’s “ongoing deportation or extradition requests for terror suspects promptly and thoroughly, taking into account information, evidence and intelligence provided” by Turkey in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition.
On Wednesday, the Turkish Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdağ, said that the Swedish and Finnish Ministries of Justice have files from Turkey about 33 people with alleged links to the PKK and the network of the US-based Turkish priest Fethullah Gülen.
Journalists repeatedly pressed Erdoğan on Thursday about the extraditions and whether Sweden had actually promised the number he quoted. He said the number of extradition requests had previously been 60 but had been updated to 73.
“Of course, what we understand is important from our meetings and conversations,” Erdogan said. “Sweden promised to give us these 73 people with this text. They may or may not, we will follow it through the text and we will make our decision. “
There was no immediate response to requests for comments from the Swedish delegation at the Madrid summit.
The Swedish government has tried to allay concerns that the deal would lead to extradition to Turkey without due process.
“I know that there are some people who are worried that we will start chasing people and extraditing them, and I think it is important to say that we always follow Swedish laws and international conventions, and we never extradite Swedish citizens” , he says. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told SVT on Wednesday.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö emphasized that Helsinki pointed out that the memorandum did not list the names of individuals.
“In the case of extradition, we will follow our own legislation and international agreements. In the end, extradition is a legal space for discretion that politicians do not have the right to influence,” says Niinistö.
With the joint memorandum signed, NATO went on to invite the two Nordic countries to the military alliance that seeks to expand and strengthen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The most time-consuming part of gaining NATO membership is the ratification of the applicants’ accession protocols by the Alliance’s 30 member states. It is a process that involves national parliaments – and can take months.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country would begin the process of ratifying the planned NATO membership in Sweden and Finland this week and end it “very quickly”.