Turkey calls on next Swedish government to take counter-terrorism steps needed for NATO membership

Turkey is seeking the extradition of 73 people from Sweden.

By Reuters - September 14, 2022
NATO and Turkish flags are seen in this illustration taken May 18, 2022. (Dado Ruvic / Reuters / Illustration)

ANKARA — The new Swedish government should now address security concerns that Turkey has raised in return for lifting its veto on Sweden and Finland’s membership of NATO, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.

The two countries applied to join the security alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but faced opposition from Turkey which accuses them of imposing arms embargoes on Ankara and supporting groups it deems terrorists.

Turkey lifted its veto during a NATO summit in June in return for what it said were concrete gains on the issue. But Ankara has since said the Nordic countries have not taken the desired steps.

Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey had not expected Sweden to take steps before last Sunday’s election but the next government in Stockholm must now make a move on the issue.

“They know this agreement will not be approved by the (Turkish) parliament unless they take (steps),” he said.

Sweden’s right-wing opposition holds a narrow lead over the ruling center-left bloc as counting nears its end.

According to a readout of a briefing with reporters in Ankara, Cavusoglu said a meeting between the three countries on Aug. 26 showed the Nordic states had not yet acted on Turkey’s concerns.

“The following outcome has emerged: no concrete steps have been taken up to today,” he said.

The three countries signed an accord to lift Ankara’s veto in exchange for counter-terrorism promises, but Turkey has said it will block the membership bids if pledges are not kept. It has sought the extradition of 73 people from Sweden and a dozen others from Finland.

Officials from the three countries agreed in August to keep meeting in the coming months to discuss Turkey’s concerns.

“There is an agreement and the requirements of this deal are clear. These must be fulfilled,” Cavusoglu said.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay.