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Turkey Could ‘Freeze’ NATO Bid for Sweden and Finland


Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses media representatives during a press conference at the NATO summit at the Ifema congress centre in Madrid, on June 30, 2022. | Image by Gabriel Bouys/AFP

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to block Sweden and Finland’s admittance to NATO last week unless the two countries take steps to satisfy Ankara’s security concerns.

As reported in The Dallas Express, Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance. However, Ankara warned that it would still obstruct the process if those nations refused to extradite individuals with ties to banned Kurdish nationalist organizations or associates of an exiled cleric suspected of planning a failed coup in Turkey in 2016.

The governments of all 30 NATO states need to agree on the Nordic nations’ membership, and Turkey’s parliament could still decide not to ratify the agreement.

“I would like to remind once again that if these countries do not take the necessary steps to fulfill our conditions, we will freeze the [accession] process,” Erdogan said in a televised address, per AP News. “Our stance on this issue is very clear. The rest is up to them,” he said.

Erdogan made the general claim that Sweden was not “projecting a good image,” but he did not go into detail. Finland and Sweden did not immediately respond to Erdogan’s remarks.

Turkey accused the two nations of being too indulgent with organizations that threaten its national security. The government has submitted additional petitions for the extradition of terrorist suspects sought by Turkey, according to the justice minister of Turkey.

A joint memorandum signed by Turkey, Sweden, and Finland at the NATO summit last month permitted the military alliance to proceed with admitting the two Nordic nations. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February prompted the two historically-neutral countries to seek formal admittance to NATO.

Finland and Sweden agreed to address Turkey’s concerns within the joint memorandum, “pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly … in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition.”

For their part, Russia and China expressed grievances over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance after the announcements were made at a NATO summit in Madrid late last month, as reported in The Dallas Express.

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