National Politics

Turkey’s FM Hakan Fidan calls Sweden as NATO bid progresses

Turkey’s FM Hakan Fidan calls Sweden as NATO bid progresses

ANKARA — As Western efforts to pave the way for Sweden’s accession to NATO are amping up, Turkey’s new Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Wednesday called on Stockholm to take concrete steps toward that goal.

Fidan held a phone call with his Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom as part of a whirlwind phone traffic with more than a dozen of his foreign counterparts since taking office on Monday.

Sweden’s pending NATO membership has come to the forefront following the May 14 general elections which saw Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extending his rule into a new term.

President Joe Biden raised the matter with Erdogan during a phone call last week over Erdogan’s election victory. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also traveled to Ankara in a fresh push to convince Erdogan’s government to greenlight Sweden’s accession before the bloc’s leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12.

Stoltenberg’s push has failed to lead to any breakthrough, but parties agreed to hold trilateral talks next week between Swedish, Turkish and NATO officials.

Sweden and Finland announced their bids to join the alliance last year, a process which requires consent of all NATO member states. While Finland became a member earlier this year, the Swedish bid is pending ratification by Turkey and Hungary.

Ankara is demanding Stockholm take steps to address its security concerns, including extradition or deportation of dozens of individuals over their alleged terror links, asset freezes and restriction of groups that it deems terrorists.

Sweden has amended its constitution and counterterrorism laws as well as lifted a de facto defense sales embargo against Turkey, asserts that it has fulfilled Ankara’s demand. Ankara, in turn, presses for more.

The phone call between Fidan and Billstrom came amid Swedish press reports of a court ruling which could produce the first extradition from Sweden to Turkey since the beginning of the negotiations. Yet it remains unclear whether the man in question is among those that Ankara formally wanted from Stockholm as part of the NATO talks.

According to Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper, the court last week ruled that a jailed Turkish national who was formerly convicted of drug charges could be handed over to Turkey to serve the remainder of his sentence. Reportedly, the 35-year-old, still on parole in Turkey, moved to Sweden, where he was re-arrested at Ankara’s request.

The man claims that the Turkish authorities are pursuing his extradition due to his Kurdish activism. The Swedish court, however, noted that the Turkish authorities informed the court that there were no ongoing investigations or charges against the man on terror accusations, Aftonbladet reported. The man will be handed over to Turkey if the Swedish government greenlights his extradition.

Source:Al-Monitor

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