Türkiye not ready to approve Sweden’s NATO bid

Helsinki and Stockholm pledged to address Turkish concerns about suspected terrorists in order for Ankara to approve their bids to join the bloc

Finland and Sweden have not extradited a single suspect to Türkiye since pledging to review Ankara’s requests, a Turkish minister has said. Türkiye made support from the two Nordic countries in its fight against terrorism a condition for NATO entry.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag reported a lack of progress with extraditions in an interview with the TV new channel A Haber on Thursday.

“There are positive conversations. They offered some explanations. They have reviews underway. There were no people who have been extradited from Finland and Sweden to us,” the official said.

He noted that his country wants the two Nordic nations to “support Türkiye’s fight against terrorism” before Ankara would agree to their NATO bids. The US-led military bloc gives every member state a veto on expansion.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in May, claiming that such a move was necessary to gain protection against Russia. Hungary and Türkiye are the only members of the organization that have not yet ratified the applications. Budapest pledged to do so by mid-December, but Ankara has not set a deadline.

The two prospective members signed an agreement with Türkiye in June in which they pledged to address a list of Turkish concerns. Among other things, Ankara accused the Nordic nations of harboring “terrorists” on their soil and failing to crack down on their operations to finance activities against Türkiye.

The Turkish allegations were referring to individuals whom it suspects of having ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the movement of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The PKK waged a decades-long guerrilla war against Türkiye and is considered a terrorist organization by the EU. Ankara blamed Gulen for masterminding a failed military coup in 2016.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Türkiye this week to discuss, among other things, the bids of Finland and Sweden, according to the news agency Anadolu.

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