Turkey tells Sweden to hurry for NATO entry

By Firat Kozok and Beril Akman | Bloomberg

Turkey said Sweden and Finland should hurry on fulfilling promises for their accession to NATO, ahead of Turkish elections expected to take place in less than six months.

The Turkish parliament may announce a recess six weeks before parliamentary and presidential elections, leading to the need to rush to get it ratified, said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. Yet Sweden said this month that Turkey is asking for too much in exchange for approving membership, suggesting it isn’t imminent.

“If you want this to be ratified you are looking at a two-three month frame,” Kalin said.

Turkey has stalled Sweden and Finland’s membership bids to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on grounds that the countries have not cracked down enough on outlawed groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK. The Turkish government has especially pressured Sweden, requesting the extradition of dozens of suspects.

Speaking to a group of journalists in Istanbul on Saturday, Kalin welcomed Sweden’s constitutional amendments on terrorism laws but said the legal implementation would take up to six months. “Maybe it can do some of these things administratively or through other means,” the spokesman said, adding Sweden could make some changes before June.

Sweden has to “show through actions, and not just through words or statements, that the PKK will not be present, will not be allowed to collect money, or to recruit members,” he said.

The PKK has waged a decades-long armed conflict in Turkey’s southeast seeking greater autonomy and freedoms for the country’s largest Kurdish minority. It is listed as a terror organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

A Turkish delegation will meet with its Swedish and Finnish counterparts at the NATO headquarters in Brussels next month, Kalin said. Turkey and Hungary are the only two countries that have not ratified the accession bids, made last May following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though an agreement hammered out at the bloc’s summit in June allowed the process to move forward.

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