A trilateral memorandum was signed alongside last week’s summit in Madrid and, although not officially on the agenda, it was welcomed by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the leadership of Finland and Sweden.
However, questions about Turkey’s allegations that Finland and Sweden house individuals involved in terrorist cells, especially from Kurdish groups, Ankara’s extradition demands on them, and Finland’s and Sweden’s arms sales embargo against Turkey continue to linger.
Finland in particular has adopted a cautious, wait-and-see strategy, emphasizing that it is a state governed by the rule of law and will not change its domestic law or violate international law as a result of pressure from Ankara.
On the issue of terrorist groups, Turkey has submitted requests for the extradition of 16 people in the last decade, but only two of these have been met.
Sweden has a larger proportion of residents of Kurdish origin, and has allowed a total of 73 people to be extradited to Turkey, the latter claims – a statement that Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has not contradicted, and said during the investigation that she can not comment on agreements behind closed doors.
Another of Turkey’s demands, the end of an arms embargo imposed by Finland and Sweden on it in 2019 after Turkey’s armed forces attacked Kurdish areas in Syria, has so far received less media attention, but despite that the country was at the top of the list of export destinations for Finland. just one year earlier and worth € 40 million. In second place came the United Arab Emirates, where arms exports from Finland amounted to 22 million euros in value in 2018.
However, the sharply changed security situation in Europe since then means that changes are in the air in any case.
Not only at the Madrid summit, Russia was clearly stated as a threat to all 30 NATO member states, but also Finnish military personnel have seen a change in place during their training.
While in various scenarios, a “mystery enemy” or a “yellow state” that threatened Finland’s security and whose work resembled the Russian Federation’s military, Russia will from Monday be mentioned by name, training leader for said the Finnish General Staff, Colonel Kari Pietiläinen.
While a memorandum of understanding was signed last week in Madrid – the summit lasted Tuesday to Thursday – accompanied by expressions of relief, the ink was barely dry when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that unless both countries change legislation to address terrorism and arms embargo, Turkey will not to ratify their applications for NATO membership.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Yle that the signed agreement did not refer to any change in legislation.
Finland and Sweden will sign NATO Accession Protocol on Tuesday; all 30 member states must ratify it – Estonia has promised to do so in one day, Wednesday 6 July, and convenes Riigikogu on holiday for two special meetings to achieve this.
The country’s Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson said that lists of people to be extradited have not been drawn up, assuring Kurds living in Finland that they will not be extradited and that the country will stick to a Council of Europe decision on extradition, which excludes measures against those have committed crimes that are considered political.
In addition, Finland pointed to a cultural clash in that extradition of persons is not up to the executive, but to the judiciary – a difference that is not understood in Turkey, say Finnish commentators.
Council of Europe rules also state that countries may refuse the extradition of their own citizens; many of them on Ankara’s extradition list have since taken Finnish citizenship.
When it comes to the arms embargo, joining NATO would still solve this issue, says Helsinki – because NATO member countries can not embargo arms trade between other member countries.