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Sweden, Finland NATO bid will depend on extraditing ‘terrorists’, says Turkey

Sweden and Finland must first deport or extradite up to 130 individuals who are considered by Turkey to be terrorists before the Turkish parliament is to approve their bids to join NATO, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.

The two Nordic states applied to join NATO last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but all 30 member states need to approve their bids. Turkey has been holding back its approval, saying that Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it considers terrorists. For Turkey, this means mainly Kurdish militants plus a group it is blaming for a 2016 coup attempt.

“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’,” Erdoğan said in comments late on Sunday, referring to a joint press conference he held with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson last November.

“For this to pass the parliament, first of all you have to hand more than 100, around 130 of these terrorists to us,” Erdoğan said.

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Sweden and Finland signed a three-way agreement with Turkey in June 2022 centred on overcoming the country’s objections. As part of that accord, the two Nordic countries pledged to address Turkey’s “pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly”, taking into account Turkish intelligence and abiding by all European law.

On Monday Sweden’s PM Kristersson said that his country was in a “good position” to secure Turkey’s ratification of its NATO bid. Earlier, on Saturday, Erdoğan’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın said that time is running out for Turkey’s parliament to ratify the bids before presidential and parliamentary elections expected in May.

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