(Photo Credit : Henrik Montgomery/AFP)
On 8 January, the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, said that Sweden cannot fulfill Turkiye’s demands for a NATO application bid but that he remains confident Ankara will approve it anyway.
“Turkiye both confirms that we have done what we said we would do, but they also say that they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them,” the prime minister said during a security conference on Sunday.
The announcement comes in light of a three-way agreement between Turkiye, Sweden, and Finland following the nordic countries’ membership bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in May following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At the time, Turkiye rejected the membership bid of both countries, accusing Finland and Sweden of harboring Kurdish terrorists.
In response, Turkiye demanded that the nordic states join the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and extradite people deemed terrorists by the Turkish state – a total of 33 alleged Kurdish fighters from both countries.
In 2022, former prime minister of Sweden Magdalena Andersson pledged not to extradite any wanted Kurdish-Swedish citizens to Turkiye following 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.”
In December, Sweden also rejected Turkiye’s request to extradite Turkish journalist Bulent Kenes, who Ankara accused of being complicit in a coup attempt in 2016.
The journalist fled to Sweden following the coup to seek refuge after being accused of supporting the US-backed cleric Fethullah Gulen, who was allegedly the coup’s instigator.
Sweden’s Supreme Court says there are “several hindrances” against Gulen’s extradition and that allegations of his involvement in the coup are based on Gulen’s political views instead of clear-cutting evidence.
In August, the Swedish government announced the extradition of a Turkish citizen for his alleged ties to the PKK, marking the first time Stockholm extradited a Turkish citizen following tense negotiations.
Turkiye has asked Sweden and Finland to deport and detain not only supporters of the PKK but also its affiliates, such as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.