Erdogan’s spokesman: Turkey is running out of time to ratify Swedish and Finnish NATO membership bids

Ankara has said Sweden needed to take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists. Image: Reuters

Upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO – an major U-turn for two nations with long histories of wartime neutrality and staying out of military alliances.

As we all might be aware of, Turkey opposed the two countries’ bids to join the NATO alliance while Ankara demanded that the Nordic countries stop supporting Kurdish armed groups and lift bans on sales of arms to Turkey.

Ankara especially referred to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) – a Kurdish militant political organization and armed guerrilla movement – while raising concerns that Sweden had been harbouring PKK members. An allegation Sweden has denied.

Turkish President, Recep Erdogan Tayyip threatened to block the accession of Finland and Sweden to the NATO alliance. New NATO memberships require the approval of all 30 NATO member states.

To overcome Ankara’s objections to their NATO bids, both Finland and Sweden signed an agreement in which Turkey particularly urged Sweden to take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants, who Turkey blames for the 2016 coup attempt.

An arrangement which, according to Turkey, has not been fully effectuated.

As reported by Swiss news platform, Swissinfo, President Recep Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin said the Turkish Parliament would have to ratify Ankara’s decision on Sweden and Finland’s accession while stressing this depended on how quickly Stockholm fulfils its promises to prevent terrorism.

– Stockholm is fully committed to implementing the agreement that was signed last year in Madrid, but the country needs six more months to write new laws that would allow the judicial system to implement the new definitions of terrorism, Kalin said.

Kalin added that Sweden has yet to communicate to terrorist organisations that Sweden is no longer an asylum where they can collect money and recruit members and pointed to a potential time issue as the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held in May.


About Jeannette Hinrup

Jeannette Sophie Hinrup is a Danish environmental geographer traveling South East Asia while writing for ScandAsia.

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