ISTANBUL: Just two days after agreeing to drop objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, Turkey’s leader threatened on Thursday that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries do not respond fully to his expectations.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the close of the alliance summit in Madrid that Tuesday night’s 10-article deal with the Nordic pair was a victory for Ankara which addressed all of its “sensitivities”. He particularly stressed Turkey’s demand that Sweden and Finland extradite terrorist suspects with links to banned Kurdish groups or the network of an exiled cleric accused of a failed 2016 coup in Turkey.
But Erdogan added that if the two Nordic states backtracked on their promises, Turkey’s parliament would still not be able to ratify the deal. Membership in NATO must be formally approved by all 30 member states, which gives everyone a right to block.
“This business won’t work if we don’t pass it in our parliament,” Erdogan said. “Sweden and Finland have to do their homework first and those are already in the text… But if they don’t do it then of course there’s no way we’re sending it to our parliament .”
Erdogan claimed that Sweden had promised to extradite 73 ‘terrorists’ to Turkey and to crack down on fundraising and recruitment activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK – listed as a terrorist group by the US and the EU. European Union – and related groups. Turkey sees the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, as an extension of the PKK.
The text of the memorandum does not set any precise figures on extraditions. It states that the Nordic countries will process Turkey’s “pending deportation or extradition requests of suspected terrorists in a prompt and thorough manner, taking into account information, evidence and intelligence provided” by Turkey in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition.
On Wednesday, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the Swedish and Finnish Justice Ministries had files from Turkey on 33 people with alleged links to the PKK and the network of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen based in the United States. United States.
At Thursday’s press conference, reporters repeatedly pressed Erdogan about extraditions and whether Sweden had indeed promised the number he cited.
“Of course, what we understand is important from our meetings and discussions,” Erdogan said. “Sweden promised to give us these 73 people with this text. They may or may not, we’ll follow that through the text and make our decision. »
Erdogan also said the number of extraditions was 60 but was updated to 73. There was no immediate response to requests for comment from the Swedish delegation to the Madrid summit.
The Swedish government has sought to allay concerns that the deal would lead to extraditions to Turkey without due process.
“I know some people are worried that we will start hunting people down and extraditing them and I think it’s important to say that we always follow Swedish laws and international conventions, and we never extradite citizens Swedish,” said the Swedish Prime Minister. Minister Magdalena Andersson told public broadcaster SVT on Wednesday.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto pointed out that Helsinki pointed out that the memorandum does not list the names of individuals.
“In the event of extradition, we will respect our own legislation and international agreements. Ultimately, extradition is a legal discretion that politicians have no right to influence,” Niinisto said.
With the signing of the joint memorandum, NATO moved forward in inviting the Nordic countries to the military alliance which seeks to widen and strengthen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The most time-consuming part of NATO membership is the ratification of the candidate membership protocols by the 30 member countries of the alliance. It’s a process that involves national parliaments — and could take months.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that Germany would start the ratification process for Sweden’s and Finland’s planned NATO membership this week and conclude it “very quickly”.


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