By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL- On Wednesday, newly appointed Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan spoke to Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, emphasizing that Sweden has to follow up in more concrete steps for Turkiye to approve its NATO bid. Billstrom called Fidan to congratulate him on his new position while both discussed recent developments. Billstrom’s call came after the Supreme Court of Sweden permitted the return to Turkiye of a man supporting the PKK. The Turkish government expects Sweden to take more serious measures to combat terrorists it its countrhy that Turkiye deems a threat to its security.Turkish officials said it was made clear to Sweden that implementing an anti-terror bill is not enough for its NATO bid to be approved. What Turkiye expects includes strict measures against terrorist groups and extraditing members of those groups wanted by Turkiye.
After the Supreme Court of Sweden’s ruling, it’s now up to the Swedish government to decide whether to give the green light to extradite the man – Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported. If the Swedish government agrees to do so, the man will be the first PKK supporter to be extradited by Sweden to Turkiye. Following Swedish laws, the government makes final decisions on extradition requests but can’t grant a request to another state if the Supreme Court rules against it. The case is rather unusual since the man in question was only arrested in 2014 on charges that he was transporting cannabis, the Swedish press reported. The man claims the real reason Turkiye wants him extradited for his support for the pro-PKK People’s Democratic Party (HDP and for having displayed support for the PKK The man was arrested last year in August by Swedish authorities after Turkish prosecutors said they want him to serve out the rest of his jail sentence. According to Aftonbladet, the Turkish prosecutor who was asked by Swedish authorities if there were any ongoing investigations or charges against the man such as “propagating for a terrorist organization” or “insulting the Turkish president,” said that there weren’t.
Meanwhile, a new law went into effect in Sweden on June 1 which is a new, anti-terrorism law that criminalizes “participation in a terrorist organization.” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have said that Sweden has already “fulfilled its obligations” in the tripartite agreement that Finland, Sweden and Turkiye signed last June with steps both countries needed to take so their NATO bids could be seriously considered by Turkiye. Finland was voted in as a NATO member on April 4, this year. The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that both foreign ministers agreed to hold more talks on facilitating Sweden’s NATO bid. To that end, officials from Turkiye, Sweden and NATO will meet next week for further discussion. Turkiye and Hungary are the only NATO member states who have not yet ratified Sweden’s NATO bid.