Sweden’s new gov’t says will fulfil deal with Turkey on NATO

Sweden’s new center-right government has said it will fulfil all requirements under a deal with Turkey to join the NATO alliance, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

The Nordic country’s new government shares Turkey’s concern about the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it cited Foreign Minister Tobias Billström as saying, in reference to the armed group at war for Kurdish self- rule in Turkey for over 40 years, which is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States.

Ankara earlier this year threatened to block Sweden and Finland’s membership in the 30-member defense alliance, accusing Stockholm and, to a lesser extent, Helsinki of supporting groups it designates as terrorist organizations.

The two Nordic countries need Turkey’s approval to join the alliance, which operates by consensus.

Turkey has urged both Nordic countries to restrict actions of groups that it deems a threat to its national security and extradite dozens of people over their alleged links to the PKK, and the Gulen movement as a precondition to its approval of their NATO bids.

“There will be no nonsense from the Swedish government when it comes to the PKK,” Billström told the Associated Press in an interview. “We are fully behind a policy which means that terrorist organizations don’t have a right to function on Swedish territory.”

Turkey, Finland, and Sweden in June signed an agreement paving the way for Finnish and Swedish NATO membership. As part of the deal, signed under Sweden’s previous left-leaning government, the countries vowed to not support Kurdish groups in Syria that Turkey says are affiliated with the PKK and to lift arms embargos on Turkey imposed after its military operation in northern Syria in 2019. The agreement also called for two countries to address Turkey's pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects.

“Everything which is written into the trilateral memorandum, and which has been agreed upon by all three parties, should be fulfilled, needs to be fulfilled by all the three parties,” Billström told AP, adding that “everything also has to be done in a legally safe way.”

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