More steps needed for Sweden’s NATO membership: Turkey

Ankara, Dec 22 (IANS) Sweden has not taken enough “concrete steps” to extradite people that Ankara sees as terrorists and freeze their assets, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, as Sweden tries to convince Turkey to ratify its bid to join NATO.
“They deported a PKK (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party)-affiliated person to our country. These are steps in the right direction. But, there is no concrete development regarding the extradition of terrorist-related criminals and the freezing of terrorist assets,” Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with his visiting Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom.
A Swedish court’s decision to refuse Turkey’s demand to extradite journalist Bulent Kenes, whom Ankara accuses to be a member of the Gulen Movement, was “a very negative development”, the minister said.
The Swedish statements about lifting the restrictions to Turkey on defence industry products were positive, but Turkish defence companies have not yet received the necessary positive response in importing some products, Cavusoglu also said.
“Sweden keeps its promises. We take this deal very seriously. We have started to take our steps for each paragraph and we will continue to implement it,” Billstrom said.
“The PKK may not be a big threat in Sweden, but it is definitely a very important threat to Turkey and we take it very seriously,” the Swedish minister added.
Finland and Sweden’s NATO bid was initially blocked by the Turkish government, which accused them of supporting anti-Turkey groups as they rejected Ankara’s extradition requests for the suspects affiliated with the PKK and the Gulen Movement.
On June 28, Turkey, Sweden and Finland reached a trilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) ahead of the NATO Madrid summit. The Nordic states pledged to support Turkey’s fight against terrorism and agreed to address Ankara’s pending extradition requests for terror suspects. Lifting defence industry restrictions on Turkey was another condition of the deal.
Sweden and Finland have restricted arms exports to Trkiye after the country started a cross-border operation in northern Syria in 2019. On September 30, Sweden’s Inspectorate of Strategic Products, which controls arms exports, said it had authorised military exports to Turkey.

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