Turkey threatens Sweden and Finland again for NATO membership

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again threatened Sweden and Finland with a blockade on the two countries’ accession to NATO on Thursday (30), less than 48 hours after the agreement between the three countries.

Since mid-May, Ankara has blocked the two countries’ accession process, accusing them of protecting Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers terrorist organizations.

But on Tuesday night, the governments of Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for the Nordic countries to join the Atlantic Alliance.

This Thursday, the Turkish president spoke for the first time since the surprising signing of the agreement and presented its conditions.

“If they do their duty, we will present (the memorandum) in Parliament” for their approval. “If they don’t, it’s impossible for us to send him to Parliament,” he warned.

Erdogan referred to a “promise made by Sweden” concerning the extradition of “73 terrorists”.

“They will return them, they promised. It is in the written documents. They will fulfill their promise,” he added without going into details.

On Thursday night, the Swedish government recalled that its decisions on extradition were subject to an “independent” justice.

“In Sweden, Swedish law applies with independent courts,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said in a written statement sent to AFP.

“Non-Swedish persons can be extradited at the request of other countries, but only if this is compatible with Swedish law and the European Convention on the subject of extradition,” he added.

The Turkish head of state also called on Finland and Sweden to “complete their laws” on the presence in their territory of members of the PKK and YPG, which operate on Turkey’s borders in northern Iraq and Syria.

“The important thing is that the promises made to Turkey are fulfilled,” he insisted.

According to the memorandum signed on Tuesday, Turkey lifts its veto on the two Nordic countries’ membership of NATO in exchange for their cooperation against members of the affected Kurdish movements.

The following day, Ankara demanded the extradition of 33 “terrorists” from Sweden and Finland.

All are members of the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Ankara and its Western allies, or the movement founded by preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdogan accuses of instigating the July 2016 coup attempt.

“All these cases have already been resolved in Finland,” commented Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, and the Finnish Ministry of Justice said it had “no new extradition requests from Turkey in recent days.”

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson pledged on Wednesday to “cooperate more closely with Turkey on PKK (fighter) lists”.

“But obviously, we continue to respect Swedish law and international law,” he added in a message posted on Instagram.

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