TURKEY: President Tayyip Erdogan said that Sweden and Finland must deport or extradite up to 130 “terrorists” to Turkey before the Turkish parliament will approve their requests to join NATO.
The two Nordic nations applied to join NATO last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the approval of their application is contingent upon the consent of all 30 NATO members, and neither Turkey nor Hungary have yet approved the applications.
Turkey claims that Sweden in particular needs to first take a stronger stance against those it perceives as terrorists, notably Kurdish militants, and an organisation it considers accountable for a failed coup attempt in 2016.
In remarks made late on Sunday, Erdogan cited a joint press conference he and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson held in November and added, “We said look, so if you don’t hand over your terrorists to us, we can’t pass it (approval of the NATO application) through the parliament anyway.”
“For this to pass the parliament, first of all, you have to hand over more than 100, around 130 of these terrorists to us,” Erdogan continued.
Erdogan’s demand was seen by Finnish MPs as an angry response to a recent episode in Stockholm, where an effigy of the Turkish president was strung up during what seemed to be a minor demonstration.
Pekka Haavisto, the foreign minister of Finland, told public television YLE that “this must have been a reaction, I believe, to the events of the past few days.”
Haavisto claimed he was not aware of any further demands from Turkey’s government.
The incident in Stockholm prompted Turkey to postpone a planned visit to Ankara by Andreas Norle, the Swedish parliament’s speaker. Instead, Norlen travelled to Helsinki on Monday.
“We stress that in Finland and in Sweden we have freedom of expression.” “We cannot control it,” Matti Vanhanen, the speaker of the Finnish parliament, briefed reporters at a press conference that was held concurrently with Norlen.
Separately, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson declared on Monday that his nation was in a “good position” to convince Turkey to ratify its NATO application.
Erdogan’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, stated on Saturday that the Turkish Parliament didn’t have much time left to approve the bids before the expected presidential and parliamentary elections in May.
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