Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström
(Photo credit: AFP / LEHTIKUVA / ADEM ALTAN)
Talks between Sweden and Turkiye are progressing well, and Stockholm expects Ankara to ratify the Nordic country’s NATO membership application ahead of the alliance’s July summit, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Tobias Billström, said on 23 December, Reuters reports.
The Foreign Minister made his remarks after speaking with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in the city of Ankara.
Billstrom told Turkiye’s Anadolu Agency (AA) in an exclusive interview, “We are committed to fulfilling every obligation within this memorandum to the last letter as long as it is within the framework of the constitution of Sweden and the legislation and principles of rule of law.”
The Swedish official claimed his nation had already made significant progress and said that the stricter anti-terrorism laws that will come into force on January 1 in Sweden had been welcomed by Ankara.
“We will fulfill everything laid down in the memorandum. And when that is done, it will pave the way for an improved relationship between Turkiye and Sweden, not only for NATO accession. That is one thing, and it is important,” Billström stated.
“Turkiye, for decades, has been a victim of terrorism. Recently in November, the country suffered another terrorist attack on its territory. I mean that took place in one of the most crowded streets of Istanbul. We can understand this, and we can understand the worries this has created in Turkish society,” he explained.
He emphasized that the agreement and Sweden’s membership in the EU, which classifies the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization, are not the only reasons that PKK operations should be banned.
Three months ago, the Prime Minister of Sweden, Magdalena Andersson, pledged not to extradite any wanted Kurdish-Swedish citizens to Turkiye amidst the country’s request to join NATO.
“Despite our agreement with Turkiye, we will not hand over any Kurd with Swedish citizenship to Turkiye,” she said.
Andersson reassured double citizens, saying that “those that do not commit terrorist acts have nothing to worry about.”
During the NATO summit in Madrid in June, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Finland and Sweden to “play their part” and stop providing a safe haven for Kurdish activists.