BY DAILY SABAH
Sweden on Thursday highlighted the need for more talks with Türkiye on its NATO membership bid, shortly after the Swedish prime minister visited Ankara and held meetings with Turkish officials.
“Personally, I think that the prime minister of Sweden’s visits to Ankara showed that there is still plenty of room for dialogue, a dialogue which is now underway and ongoing,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said during a joint news conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Berlin.
“And that has to be done on all levels, the highest level with the Prime Minister meeting with President (Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan, and the second level that would be me, I will shortly go to Ankara this autumn to continue discussions with my counterparts there,” he added.
Billstrom also pointed to ongoing talks among Sweden, Finland and Türkiye on the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding, to address Ankara’s expectations from the two countries.
“When all conditions laid down in the memorandum have been fulfilled, the Turkish Parliament will be ready to ratify,” he said.
Billstrom made clear that Sweden is “working diligently toward a quick and seamless entry into NATO, where legal, political, organizational and other conditions are necessary for our membership.”
“I think the discussions are continuing in a very positive way. Sweden is preparing its own ratification, which concludes the Accession Protocol, and confirms Sweden as a NATO ally, and when all 30 NATO allies ratify, Sweden will be ready,” he said.
Türkiye expects to see Sweden alleviate Ankara’s concerns about terrorism under the tripartite memorandum, Erdoğan said Tuesday, urging Stockholm for more concrete steps.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in the Turkish capital Ankara, Erdoğan said his country is pleased that the new Swedish government said it will comply with the tripartite memorandum signed in Madrid.
“Sweden wants NATO membership for its own security, and Türkiye wants to see a Sweden that supports the alleviation of Ankara’s security concerns,” he added.
PKK, its Syrian branch YPG, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the DHKP-C terrorist groups “must be prevented from exploiting Sweden’s democratic environment,” he also said, noting that PKK terrorists should not be allowed to protest with their organization’s rags in Sweden.
It is “important” that members of FETO, the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye, are extradited from Sweden, the president said, urging for more action on the matter.
Kristersson, for his part, said his country will “fully implement the tripartite memorandum” signed in June between Sweden, Türkiye and Finland.
Stockholm understands that Ankara is engaging in a fight against the PKK terrorist group and wants to help with that fight, the prime minister said, underlining that he had a “positive” meeting with Erdoğan.
“We will take great steps toward the end of this year and at the beginning of next year, especially in the field of anti-terror legislation,” he said, adding that his country will take any threat against Sweden and Türkiye “seriously.”
He also noted that there is “great potential in our relationship with Türkiye” and said the two countries “can do a lot in trade and tourism.”
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the European Union and the United States, and is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
The trilateral agreement that Türkiye, Sweden and Finland signed in June stipulates that Finland and Sweden will not provide support to the YPG and FETÖ. The deal also said Ankara extends full support to Finland and Sweden against threats to their national security.
All 30 standing NATO allies need to approve any expansion of the bloc.
Sweden’s parliament will vote on Nov. 16 on a draft bill to tighten counterterrorism laws, according to a statement Tuesday.
It said the constitutional committee proposed a bill that restricts the freedom of assembly of groups affiliated with terrorism.
Authorities will be provided with the opportunity to be more effective in the fight against terrorism with the new law.
The legislation is expected to take effect on Jan. 1 if passed.