By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL – On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in a news conference in Ankara with his Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom said that Sweden still hadn’t done enough on the terrorism front, along the lines of the trilateral agreement that was signed by Türkiye, Finland and Sweden. Billstrom countered by explaining that Sweden has taken definitive steps on all the points Turkiye is concerned about, following the agreement that was signed in June between all three countries.
Çavuşoğlu pointed out that Sweden hasn’t yet taken action to extradite or freeze assets of people that Türkiye views have links to terrorism. Billstrom commented: “We have initiated steps on every paragraph and we will continue to implement it. We have increased our legal cooperation with Turkiye concerning suspected terrorists.” The Turkish minister said he did appreciate the steps Sweden has so far taken but he added that there has been “no concrete development” on the “extradition of terrorism-related criminals and the freezing of their assets.” Earlier this week, Sweden’s top court denied a request from Ankara to extradite Bulent Kenes, the former editor-in-chief of Today’s Zaman, a newspaper claimed to have links to the network of Fetullah Gulen who is suspected of masterminding the coup of July 15, 2016.
The Turkish FM pushed his point by commenting: “If Sweden wants to be a NATO ally, we have to see concrete cooperation. The negotiations are carried out in a positive atmosphere, but the denial of extradition of Kenes has intoxicated this atmosphere.” For his part, Billstrom reminded Çavuşoğlu that the Swedish judiciary is independent and said: “We shouldn’t just look at individual cases, we should look at the overall picture.” On January 1, Sweden will institute tougher anti-terrorism laws that will take effect immediately.