Sweden tightens anti-terror laws as Finland publicly shows support for NATO bid
The Swedish government has said it will further strengthen its anti-terror laws to ban more activities linked to Kurdish militant groups, in hopes of persuading Ankara to drop its objections to Sweden’s bid for membership. NATO.
Stockholm had already amended its constitution in November to pave the way for legislative changes, which had been in the works for several years.
“It is a broader criminalization, targeting a large number of activities within a terrorist organization which are not concretely linked to a particular terrorist crime”, explained the Minister of Justice Gunnar Strömmer during the meeting. ‘a press conference.
Under the new bill, acts such as handling equipment, organizing rallies or meetings, managing the transport of organizations designated as terrorists – or even cooking for them – would be criminalized. The government plans to put the bill to a vote in parliament in March, for implementation from June.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin was in Stockholm on Thursday for a meeting with his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson, in another public show of solidarity between the Nordic nations.
Marin told reporters that Finland wanted to continue with Sweden in the accession process and seemed confident that the issues with Turkey would be resolved by the next NATO summit in Vilnius in July.
“It’s very important that we send a clear message today. Finland and Sweden applied together, and it’s in everyone’s interest that we come together,” Marin said.
“I don’t like this point of view where Sweden is portrayed as the tough kid in the class,” Marin said, adding that Sweden already meets all the membership criteria to join NATO.
Prime Minister Kristersson said he appreciated the ‘very clear messages’ from Marin and the Finnish president Sauli Niinisto on the subject.
What does Turkish President Erdogan want?
Of NATO’s 30 members, only the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments have yet to ratify the membership of Sweden and Finland, which are worried about their security after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey has demanded more and more action from Sweden, especially against Kurdish groups it considers “terrorist organisations”, including members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and allied groups in Syria.
Regular pro-Kurdish rallies in Sweden, where PKK flags often fly, have been particularly irritating; but Sweden has also refused to extradite dozens of suspects whom Ankara associates with banned Kurdish fighters and a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Under Sweden’s new anti-terrorism legislation, participation in a demonstration or meeting of an organization considered to be terrorist will not be punishable per se. Waving a flag would not be criminalized per se, but could potentially be used as evidence in court, authorities say.
Turkey had also reacted furiously to a decision by Swedish police to allow a protest in which a far-right extremist burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm earlier in January.
He was also outraged by a Swedish prosecutor’s decision not to press charges against a pro-Kurdish group that hung an effigy of Erdogan by the ankles outside Stockholm City Court.
Following the incidents, Ankara last week suspended the two countries’ NATO membership talks, but hinted that Finland’s candidacy could be ratified, while Sweden’s would be frozen.
Poll: a small majority of Finns want to continue without Sweden
Meanwhile, a new poll reveals that a majority of Finns are in favor of their country joining NATO without waiting for Finland.
The survey, carried out by the Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat, showed that 53% of respondents believe that Finland should not “wait for Sweden” in the process of joining NATO, even “if the ratification takes more time because of, for example, opposition from Turkey”.
Only 28% thought the country should wait to join the military alliance with Sweden. Researchers surveyed 1,021 Finns between January 30 and February 1.
The two countries jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite having been closely aligned with the 30-member military alliance for several decades.