Senior officials from Türkiye, Sweden and Finland will come together today in Helsinki in their first meeting since they agreed on a memorandum of understanding in late June for the admission of the two Scandinavian countries to the NATO on the condition that they meet the security concerns tabled by Ankara.
Türkiye is expected to be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and presidential chief foreign policy advisor İbrahim Kalın along with officials from the interior, justice ministries as well as intelligence.
A trilateral memorandum of understanding signed between the three countries details the actions Sweden and Finland will take in order to address Türkiye’s security concerns stemming from the presence and activities of the members of the terrorist organizations, namely the PKK, YPG and FETO, in these two countries.
The deal also suggests the establishment of a Permanent Joint Mechanism to review and evaluate the implementation of the memorandum of understanding. The meeting to take place in Helsinki will be the first encounter of the officials from the three countries under this mechanism.
According to the deal, Sweden and Finland should take all necessary measures against the activities of the terror organizations and extradite the terror convicts to Türkiye. However, Ankara expresses its disappointment that the two NATO-aspirant countries, but particularly Sweden, are falling short of addressing its security concerns.
In his address at the Ambassadors’ Conference on Aug. 9, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu described the Swedish and Finnish authorities as “well-intentioned,” but stressed the need for solid steps.
“We see that they have not yet fulfilled their commitments. There are statements, but we underline that we always want to see concrete steps,” he stated, “We want to learn why the necessary steps are not taken. There is no time pressure for us. Of course, we have [time pressure] for the issue on terror.”
No extradition of terrorists
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ also criticized these two countries for not extraditing a single terror convict to Türkiye although they signed the memorandum of understanding. Sweden had announced that it will extradite a Turkish man convicted of fraud, but Bozdağ said it should extradite the terrorists. “If they think that by extraditing ordinary criminals to Türkiye they will make us believe that they have fulfilled their promises, they are wrong,” Bozdağ told the daily Milliyet earlier in the week.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said Sweden and Finland promised to extradite 73 persons to Türkiye after the deal was signed in Madrid on the sidelines of the NATO Summit.
Both Sweden and Finland are trying to assure that they are doing their best to address Türkiye’s concerns. “Finland has answered in the best possible way to its longtime partner’s concerns since we need to seriously take into account every allies’ security concerns. I wish also that Türkiye feels that the concerns have been addressed,” Finnish Prime Minister Marin Sanna said in a statement on Aug. 23.
No coalition with Left Party over PKK support
In the meantime, Swedish Prime Minister Magadalena Andersson ruled out forming a coalition government with the Left Party whose members had waved the flags of the PKK, a designated terror organization by the EU.
In a televised interview, Andersson reiterated that NATO and the EU listed the PKK as a terror organization and Sweden is part of the EU and wants to join NATO. Andersson said that the waving of the PKK terror group’s flags is not in the interest of the government. Sweden will go to the polls in September.
Turkish parliament yet to ratify
The accession process of these two countries will be completed when the parliaments of all 30 NATO allies ratify their admission into the alliance. So far, 23 countries have approved the process. Türkiye will open the Parliament on Oct. 1 but says the ratification depends on the performance of Sweden and Finland in meeting Türkiye’s conditions.
Hurriyet Daily News