Ankara won?t support the Nordic nations? NATO membership bids until they resolve their alleged support for terrorism
Sweden and Finland have rejected Turkey's request for the extradition of people linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Gulen movement (FETO), Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported on Monday. These groups are considered terrorist organizations by Ankara, and Turkey has threatened to block Sweden and Finland's bids for NATO membership unless they clamp down on their operations.
According to the report, Turkey's justice ministry had requested the extradition of six FETO and six PKK members from Finland in the past five years, as well as 10 FETO and 11 PKK members from Sweden. The ministry considers all 33 suspects "terrorists."
Extradition requests for 19 of these terrorist suspects were rejected, five were ignored, and the extradition process for nine - two in Finland and seven in Sweden - is ongoing, the report continued.
Finland and Sweden announced on Sunday that they had officially decided to file for membership of the NATO alliance, renouncing decades - or in Sweden's case, centuries - of neutrality following the launch of Russia's military operation in Ukraine in February. While the US and its allies have promised an expedited decision, the accession of the Nordic countries into the alliance requires the unanimous consent of all 30 member states, and Turkey has threatened to withhold its support.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Sweden and Finland "guesthouses for terrorist organizations" on Friday, telling reporters "it is not possible for us to be in favor" of their membership.
Erdogan's adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, told Reuters a day later that the president's comments primarily referred to Sweden, which has supported the Kurdish YPG, the PKK's Syrian branch, during the Syrian civil war, and which has six sitting Kurdish members of parliament. Turkey has repeatedly sent its military into Iraq and Syria to fight Kurdish militants in recent years.
"We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey," Kalin explained. "What needs to be done is clear: They have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organizations, individuals and other types of presence to... exist in those countries."
NATO leadership is confident that it can assuage Turkey's concerns. "Turkey is an important ally and expressed concerns that are addressed between friends and allies," NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana told reporters in Berlin on Sunday. "I am confident if these countries [Finland and Sweden] decide to seek membership in NATO, we will be able to welcome them, to find all conditions for consensus to be met."