Turkey Believes Sweden Hasn’t Done Enough
Sweden will have to wait a bit longer for NATO membership, according to Turkey's Justice Minister Jilmaz Tunc. First, Sweden must extradite the "terrorists" Turkey wants and stop the desecration of the Quran.
Published: September 10, 2023, 1:56 pm
Turkey is still waiting for Sweden to meet its demands regarding the extradition of “terrorists,” as reported by the Turkish news channel A Haber.
“Sweeden must be more accommodating, both concerning the attacks on the Holy Quran, not allowing them, and regarding our extradition requests,” said Justice Minister Jilmaz Tunc to A Haber on August 16.
“I want to emphasize that we expect a more positive attitude from Sweden on this matter,” he added.
On August 15, Swedish state tv-channel SVT reported that Turkey had requested the extradition of approximately 20 individuals from Sweden since 2020, but most of these requests had been denied. These individuals mostly belong to opposition groups, either from Kurdish political or militant factions, primarily the PKK/YPG, or the Turkish Gülenist opposition FETÖ.
For a Swedish citizen who does not wish to go voluntarily to be extradited to a non-EU country, the Supreme Court must approve the extradition. To make it possible, the person must have committed a serious crime that is also punishable in Sweden, which is not the case in most of Turkey’s requests. Moreover, the person should not risk inhumane treatment or political persecution, making it even more challenging to extradite Swedish citizens to Turkey.
However, if Turkey becomes an EU member, which Sweden’s Ulf Kristersson has expressed a desire to work towards, extradition will become much easier.
Recently, Kurdish activists in Sweden carried out another action that angered Turkish President Recep Erdogan. During Stockholm Pride, they paraded a puppet of Erdogan with LGBTQ+ symbols. This was reported by the Turkish government-friendly newspaper Daily Sabah on August 6, which stated, “The PKK terrorist group enjoys freedom in Sweden, despite the Nordic country’s promise to fight terrorism.”
Pride is prohibited in Turkey, and the police arrest people every year who attempt to gather for this event.
The action has been officially condemned “in the strongest terms” in separate comments by Turkey’s Foreign Minister and Justice Minister. It doesn’t help that both Sweden’s political and military leadership also participated in the Pride parade.
Daily Sabah notes that Erdogan explicitly told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg over the phone before the NATO meeting in Vilnius in June that Sweden must stop the “PKK terrorists,” or else there will be no NATO membership.
“Turkey maintains its constructive approach to Sweden’s membership, but legal steps would be pointless as long as PKK/YPG supporters can freely organize demonstrations in the country,” they added.
In this context, we should consider the government’s efforts to amend the constitution regarding freedom of association and make it illegal to be a member of a criminal organization. In Sweden, the PKK has been designated as a terrorist organization since 1984.
In July, a Turkish man who collected money for the PKK in Sweden was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and deportation to Turkey. This marks the first time someone has been convicted of collusion with the PKK in a Swedish court, as reported by Finnish Yle News.
Sweden hopes that Turkey’s parliament will approve Sweden’s NATO application when it convenes in early autumn. Daily Sabah reports that the parliament will address and either approve or reject Sweden’s NATO application after the summer recess.
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