Ankara has blocked Stockholm’s bid for NATO membership, accusing the Nordic nation of harboring Kurdish terrorists
The new anti-terrorism legislation should pave the way for Turkey to sign Sweden’s NATO membership, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Wednesday. The Nordic country asked Finland to join the military bloc last year, but Ankara refused to ratify either offer without significant concessions.
“This new legislation will fill a gap in our already existing anti-terrorism legislation,” Billstrom told reporters. “Sweden has never banned participation in a terrorist organization. We will do it now.
The law was passed by the Swedish parliament earlier this month and comes into force this week. Crucially for Türkiye, it criminalizes membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist group, and prohibits Swedes from providing financial or logistical assistance to the organization.
With the law in place, Billstrom said it expects “clear messages are coming out… that Sweden is welcome in the NATO family and that there are high expectations that we will be a member before [the bloc’s upcoming summit in] Vilnius.
Sweden and Finland renounced their neutrality and applied to join the US-led bloc last summer. NATO membership, however, requires the unanimous consent of all existing members, and Turkish President Recey Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that both candidates lift arms embargoes against Turkey, extradite suspected Kurdish and Gulenist terrorists, and crack down the activities of the PKK within their borders.
Finland and Sweden agreed to these demands in a trilateral memorandum signed last June. Ankara only deemed Finland compliant in March after passing tough anti-terrorism legislation, and Sweden’s request has remained pending ever since, with Erdogan saying his success “will be directly linked to the concrete measures that Sweden will take” in the “combat terrorism”.
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Sweden could have avoided granting Erdogan’s demands if the Turkish leader had lost his re-election bid on Sunday. His challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, vowed in April to lift Erdogan’s veto if he took power, but Erdogan secured a second-round victory while his party retained control of parliament.
With Erdogan still in charge, Sweden’s new law will likely soon be put to the test. Presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun said on Tuesday that Turkey wanted Sweden to investigate and prosecute a number of people who threw the PKK flag at the Swedish parliament building during the Turkish elections, and to prevent PKK members from demonstrate at an upcoming anti-NATO demonstration. week.