Turkey presses Nato aspirants Sweden and Finland on extradition of Kurdish militants

Ankara has accused Sweden and Finland of providing haven for militants

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey is waiting on the extraditions. AFP
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Sweden and Finland have not yet extradited suspected Kurdish militants to Turkey as part of a deal that would grant the Nordic nations Nato membership, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

Further details on his comment were not immediately available.

Turkey has accused Sweden and Finland of providing a haven for Kurdish militants but it has agreed to drop its veto of the countries' Nato applications in exchange for the militants' extradition on terrorism-related charges.

While Turkey has not set a firm deadline, it has said it expects 73 people to be extradited as soon as possible and that it is monitoring the situation closely.

Turkey has said it will block the Scandinavian countries' Nato membership bids if the pledges are not kept.

“Sweden maintains an ongoing dialogue with Turkey and Finland on the trilateral agreement which Sweden is following and will carry out in full in accordance with Swedish and international law,” a spokesman from Sweden's foreign ministry said.

Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the Swedish embassy's chargé d'affaires in Ankara to convey its “strong reaction” to what it called “terrorist propaganda” put on display during a Kurdish group's protest in Stockholm, diplomatic sources said at the weekend.

Officials from Turkey, Finland and Sweden will meet in August to evaluate the progress in meeting Ankara's demands.

While Turkey holds off on its ratification of the two countries' membership bids, 18 of Nato's 30 members have already approved Sweden's application to join the alliance.

Sweden and Finland made their bids to join Nato following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey dropped its veto to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance late on June 28, putting them on a fast-track for membership.

Its main concern had been over Finland and Sweden’s tolerance of the PKK, a Kurdish nationalist organisation widely designated as a terror group.

Finland’s 1,300-kilometre border with Russia means that Moscow will have a border with Nato and that the alliance's border will stretch from the Arctic to the Mediterranean Sea.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admission of the two countries would chart a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world”, change regional security and strengthen the alliance's presence in Europe.

Both countries bring formidable military power, with the Finnish military able to put up to 240,000 soldiers on to a war-footing in a short period of time.

Its navy in the Baltic Sea is also being reinforced with new frigates and it has signed a deal to buy 64 F-35 stealth fighter jets from the US.

Updated: July 27, 2022, 4:06 PM