While Stockholm says it is in a ‘good position’ on membership, Ankara is less enthusiastic
Senior Swedish and Turkish officials have made conflicting statements about talks to unblock Stockholm’s NATO bid. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said the country was in a “very good location” – hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked Stockholm to return more than 100 people he deems to be “The Terrorists.”
“The situation at the level of the negotiations, or rather the follow-up to the memorandum, is going well”, Kristersson said.
The tone of the Swedish Prime Minister differed from the statements made by Erdogan on Sunday evening.
“We said look, so if you don’t deliver your terrorists to us, we can’t pass [the ratification of the NATO bid] by parliament anyway”, he said. “For this to pass through parliament, you first have to hand over to us over 100, around 130 of these terrorists.”
The remarks echoed statements made on Saturday by Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, who noted that time was running out for Ankara to ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s bids to join the bloc.
“Stockholm is fully committed to implementing the agreement that was signed last year in Madrid, but the country needs another six months to draft new laws that would allow the judiciary to implement the new ones. definitions of terrorism”, Kalin said.
In June last year, Sweden and Finland signed a tripartite agreement with Turkey aimed at addressing Ankara’s concerns over support for “terrorism” and restrictions on arms sales. Both Nordic countries have pledged to denounce and extradite individuals whom Ankara accuses of terrorism, namely those believed to be linked to the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups.
Currently, Turkey and Hungary remain the only two members of the US-led bloc that have yet to formally endorse Sweden’s NATO bid. Ties between Ankara and Stockholm were strained last week after a group of protesters hung an effigy of President Erdogan on a bridge near Stockholm City Hall. The exhibit was apparently organized by the Swedish Rojava Solidarity Committee, a group associated with the PKK.
Ankara condemned the coup and summoned the Swedish ambassador for the offensive protest. Fahrettin Altun, communications director of the Turkish presidency, said the incident clearly showed “that the PKK terrorist can challenge the Swedish government in the heart of Stockholm” and is “the proof that the Swedish authorities have not taken the necessary measures against terrorism”, despite their claims.