Turkey gives Sweden, Finland ‘reminder’
Ankara has sent an official letter to Stockholm and Helsinki calling on the two Nordic nations to extradite “terrorists”
Turkey has sent a reminder to Sweden and Finland of its request for the extradition of the individuals Ankara deems “terrorists.” In late June, Turkey acquiesced to the countries joining NATO, after blocking their bids for weeks and accusing them of providing refuge to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), among other things.
On Wednesday, Turkey’s TRT Haber TV news channel quoted the country’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, as saying that a “letter was sent to Sweden and Finland, reminding them of the demands regarding the extradition of PKK and FETO terrorists.”
The PKK is a Kurdish group founded in the late 1970s that seeks to carve out autonomy for Turkey’s largest ethnic minority. For decades, it has been engaged in guerilla warfare against the Turkish authorities and has been designated a terrorist organization not only at home, but also in the US and EU.
The Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), as the name implies, was established by exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, who authorities in Ankara believe was the mastermind behind the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in mid-May, citing a perceived threat posed by Russia.
However, for a candidate nation to become accepted into the military alliance, the unanimous consent of all current members is needed.
Turkey initially objected to the two countries’ bids and articulated several conditions they would have to meet for Ankara to change its mind.
The Turkish government insisted that Stockholm and Helsinki extradite a number of refugees wanted by Ankara over their ties to the two organizations in question.
Furthermore, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government also demanded that Sweden and Finland lift arms embargoes they had imposed on Turkey after its 2019 incursion into northern Syria.
The deadlock was finally broken ahead of the military bloc’s Madrid summit last week.
After the three nations signed a memorandum, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last Tuesday: “I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.”
President Erdogan’s office, in turn, noted that “Turkey got what it wanted.”
The accord states, among other things, that “Finland and Sweden confirm that the PKK is a proscribed terrorist organisation,” with both nations pledging to “prevent activities of the PKK and all other terrorist organizations and their extensions,” including individuals linked to it.
In addition to that, Stockholm and Helsinki agreed to cease any support to the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria, which Ankara believes to be related to the PPK, as well as to Gulen’s group.
Last but not least, the two Nordic countries confirmed that there were no longer any arms embargoes in place against Turkey.