Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, has warned Sweden and Finland that he still has the power to thwart their attempts to join NATO if they don’t abide by the terms of a revised agreement with Ankara.
At a NATO conference where the US-led alliance formally asked the Nordic countries to join the 30-nation organization, Erdogan made his stern warning.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the two countries abandoned their tradition of military non-alignment and announced ambitions to join NATO.
Until Erdogan expressed his worries in May, their requests were expected to be approved quickly.
He charged the two with supporting “terrorism” and giving refuge to illegal Kurdish militants.
Erdogan also asked that they eliminate the arms embargoes put in place as retaliation for Turkey’s military foray into Syria in 2019.
A 10-point agreement that the three parties struck on Tuesday outside of the NATO summit appeared to answer many of Erdogan’s worries.
Erdogan dropped his reservations after a cordial meeting with US President Joe Biden, which was followed by a commitment to sell Turkey new warplanes.
Erdogan nevertheless emphasized that the pact did not imply that Turkey would automatically approve the two nations’ admission in a hastily convened press conference after the summit.
Applications from new nations need to be accepted by all other nations and ratified by their respective parliaments.
Erdogan cautioned that whether he transmitted Sweden and Finland’s application to the Turkish parliament would depend on their subsequent actions.
“We will send it to the parliament if they carry out their responsibilities. It is not possible if they are not met, he declared.
Given that parliament would be in recess starting on Friday, a senior Turkish ambassador in Washington said that the ratification process might not begin until at least late September and may not even happen until 2023.
In the halls of the NATO conference, a diplomatic source from the West charged Erdogan with using “blackmail.”
One day after Turkey declared it will request the extradition of 12 individuals from Finland and 21 from Sweden, Erdogan made his statement.
The 33 were all alleged to be either members of an organization managed by a preacher headquartered in the US or outlawed Kurdish militants, which Turkey blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Erdogan raised the stakes on Thursday, though, by saying that Sweden has “promised” to extradite “73 terrorists” to Turkey.
He didn’t give any dates or other information about when Sweden made this guarantee.
Erdogan’s comment was misunderstood, according to Stockholm officials, who also emphasized that Sweden scrupulously upheld the law.
In a statement to AFP, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said, “In Sweden, Swedish law is applied by independent courts.
Citizens of Sweden are not extradited. At the request of another country, non-Swedish citizens may be extradited, but only if doing so is permissible under Swedish law and the European Convention, according to Johansson.
Erdogan appeared to be referring to situations that had already been handled by officials and the courts, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Wednesday.
“I suspect that Finland has the answers to all of these issues. There are decisions, and our courts play a role in some of those choices, Niinisto told reporters in Madrid.
“I don’t see any need to pick them back up.”
Due to its stronger ties to the Kurdish diaspora, Sweden has been involved in the majority of Turkey’s requests and previous negotiations.
Even though the 10 million-person country of Sweden does not record official ethnicity statistics, it is estimated that 100,000 Kurds reside there.
The Brookings Institution foresaw potential issues in the near future due to Turkey’s “loose and frequently aggressive framing” of the term “terrorist.”
The US-based institution stated in a paper that “the difficulty derives from a definition of terrorism in Turkish legislation that goes beyond criminalizing participation in violent activities and infringes on basic freedom of speech.”