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Turkey again threatens to block membership of Sweden and Finland

Turkey will not ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership application “until the promises” made by the two countries are “held”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday. “As long as the promises made to our country are not kept, we will maintain our position of principle”, declared before the Turkish National Assembly Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been threatening since mid-May to block the accession of the two Nordic states to the Atlantic Alliance.

“We are following meticulously whether the promises made by Sweden and Finland will be kept or not and, of course, the final decision will be up to our great assembly,” added the head of state. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who insisted on the importance of the “fight against terrorism”, accuses the two countries of protecting Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), considered terrorists by Ankara.

Difficult negotiations for several months

To date, 28 Member States – out of thirty – of the Atlantic Alliance have ratified the accession of Sweden and Finland. Only the Hungary and Turkey still have to give their final agreement to Parliament. In an important gesture of concession to Turkey to obtain a green light from Ankara to its entry into NATO, Sweden announced on Friday that it had reauthorized exports of military equipment to Turkey. The lifting of these restrictions was among the conditions set by Ankara.

During the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June, Sweden, Finland and Turkey had signed a memorandum opening the access of the two Nordic nations to NATO. But the Turkish president had immediately brandished the threat of a veto in the event that certain conditions were not met.

A Swedish delegation is due to visit Turkey on Wednesday and Thursday for further negotiations. A tripartite meeting had already taken place at the end of August in Finland. One of the most sensitive points concerns dozens of extradition requests from opponents of Ankara – mainly Kurdish activists or the Gulenist movement.

Stockholm and Helsinki emphasize that the process remains subject to judicial decisions independent of the executive. At the beginning of September, Finland had thus dismissed Turkey’s request to reassess six extradition requests. Sweden had authorized in August the first extradition of a Turkish citizen since the Madrid agreement, but the file concerned credit card fraud.

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