Turkey wants what we cannot give for NATO membership – DW – 01/08/2023

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Turkey was asking too much in exchange for ending its obstruction of NATO membership for Sweden and neighboring Finland, speaking at a security conference attended by the secretary-general on Sunday. of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.

“Turkey has confirmed that we have done what we said we would do. But it also says that it wants things that we cannot, that we do not want to give,” Prime Minister Kristersson said, adding: “We are convinced that Turkey will make a decision, simply We don’t know when.”

The Swede said the decision would depend on his country’s ability “to show its seriousness” as well as internal political factors in Turkey during an election year.

Sweden, along with neighboring Finland, reversed a longstanding military policy of nonalignment by applying to join the NATO alliance last May in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Turkey, a major NATO ally, has used the situation to take advantage of concessions from Western partners. NATO membership requires the unanimous support of all 30 members.

Turkey opposes Sweden and Finland joining NATO

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Why has Turkey blocked Sweden’s NATO entry?

At Sunday’s Folk och Foersvar (Society and Defence) Security Conference in Sweden’s Saelen, NATO chief Stoltenberg said that in an increasingly hostile world “it is even more important that Sweden and Finland become members of NATO”.

Stoltenberg, a Norwegian, warned that underestimating Russia risks “significant security consequences in the Nordic region.”

Despite this urgency, Turkey has unilaterally blocked membership for months in an effort to force Finland, but especially Sweden, to join its fight against Kurdish militants and those whom Ankara labels enemies of the state.

Turkey has maintained tense ties with both Russia and the West for years and has recently positioned itself as a go-between in scenarios linked to the war in Ukraine, such as seeking to facilitate grain shipments from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean along the Bosphorus.

Kurds in Sweden fear repression and extradition

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What does Turkey want from Sweden?

In June, Finland, Sweden and Turkey signed a tripartite agreement to address Ankara’s concerns about what it called a “haven for militants” and people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara, the US and the EU have designated a terrorist organization.

Although Ankara announced in December that it was pleased with the way Sweden had addressed its security concerns, Erdogan’s government has continued to push for further concessions before endorsing membership.

A key question from the outset has been Ankara’s insistence that several people it says have links to a failed 2016 coup be extradited to Turkey for trial.

Thousands of people accused of acting against the Erdogan government have since been jailed.

In late December, Ankara expressed its displeasure when the Swedish Supreme Court blocked the extradition of a journalist it accuses of having ties to exiled Islamic cleric Fettulah Gulen, whom Erdogan sees as behind the coup plot.

Nevertheless, Stoltenberg said on Sunday that he was confident he would soon be able to warmly welcome Sweden and Finland to the alliance.

Stoltenberg did not offer an exact date, but suggested membership would be extended this year, saying: “The time has come to close the accession process and ratify the accession protocol.”

NATO chief: Turkey should allow in Sweden, Finland

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js/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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