BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
We must not become a terrorist base, Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Monday as the Nordic country tries to curb terrorist activities in its country within the scope of its NATO bid and Türkiye’s demands.
Responding to a letter on not extraditing terrorist suspects to Ankara by former Social Democratic deputy Nalin Pekgül, known for her anti-Türkiye stance, Kristersson said that those who did not engage in terrorism, the financing of terrorism or any crime do not have anything to fear.
Sweden, like Türkiye, has the right to protect itself against security threats and terrorism, Kristersson added, indicating that Sweden will continue to govern by the rule of law.
Türkiye expects Sweden and Finland to take “concrete steps” to become NATO members as terror propaganda in these countries is still ongoing, Akar said on Tuesday.
Akar’s remarks came ahead of his meeting with Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen on Thursday. During talks in the capital Ankara, Akar and Kaikkonen will discuss bilateral defense and security issues, as well as Finland’s NATO membership process.
“We are closely following the situation in Sweden and Finland. Unfortunately, we still see some provocative actions and images in these countries. We expect both Sweden and Finland to take concrete steps,” Akar told reporters.
“There are commitments signed by Sweden and Finland … they must be fulfilled … the memorandum is a beginning, not an end. After these are done, the Turkish Parliament will make its decision. We are also trying to help Sweden and Finland,” Akar added.
Türkiye does not have a problem with NATO’s open-door policy, but the country’s sensitivities should be respected.
“Terrorism is one of NATO’s biggest areas of struggle. Terrorism is a serious problem for all countries right now. Türkiye is the only country fighting more than one terrorist organization. This needs to be seen and the awareness of what we do on this issue needs to be increased,” Akar added.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last week that there has been no progress on the return of terrorist suspects as part of a trilateral deal with Finland and Sweden.
Speaking after a NATO meeting in Romania, Çavuşoğlu said: “These two countries have taken some steps regarding their commitments, we do not ignore these steps. However, there is no concrete progress on some issues, especially on the return of criminals and the freezing of assets of terrorist elements.”
For Sweden and Finland to become NATO members, their applications must be ratified by all 30 NATO members. So far, 28 have already done so – only Türkiye and Hungary have votes still pending.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in June, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
However, Türkiye voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
A trilateral memorandum at the NATO Madrid summit signed among the countries in June stipulates that Finland and Sweden will not provide support to the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian offshoot, the YPG, or the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ) – the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye.
Sweden and Finland agreed earlier this summer to assure Türkiye of their support against security risks.
On Monday, the Finnish Embassy in Türkiye held a reception Monday marking the 105th anniversary of Finland’s independence and touched upon the trilateral deal.
Ambassador Ari Maki said that Russia’s war on Ukraine has overshadowed European security, with repercussions for Finland and Sweden as well.
“I hope the remaining two (NATO) countries, Hungary and Türkiye, will ratify our membership agreements swiftly. Türkiye has during the process raised the issue of terrorism, which Finland takes seriously,” Maki said.
Attending the reception, Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakcı said Türkiye would like to see both Finland and Sweden in NATO, adding: “As our legitimate demands have been understood by these two fellow European nations, we hope to see progress. The sooner the better.”