Sweden must extradite terrorists if wants to join NATO: Türkiye

If Swedish government fails to take action on ongoing terrorist PKK/PYD propaganda, tension in ties may grow, says Turkish President Erdogan

Merve Aydogan  | 15.01.2023 - Update : 16.01.2023
Sweden must extradite terrorists if wants to join NATO: Türkiye Turkish President and Leader of the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends his party's meeting held with youth in Mugla, Turkiye on January 15, 2023. ( Murat Kula - Anadolu Agency )


Türkiye on Sunday criticized Sweden along with other European states over tolerating a continuing terrorist presence, as the country's president said the extradition of terrorists is a must for the Nordic country to earn the right to enter NATO.

"We've told them (Sweden), 'Look, if you don’t extradite the terrorists you have then we can’t ratify this (NATO membership) in our parliament’,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a youth meeting, referring to Sweden and Finland’s pledges last June to take a firm stance against terrorists in order to gain NATO membership.

“First of all, they need to extradite nearly 130 terrorists in order for their bids to pass our parliament, (but) unfortunately they have yet to do this," he added, speaking in Mugla, southwestern Türkiye.

Citing a joint press conference he held last November with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Erdogan said he told Sweden to extradite fugitive terrorist FETO suspect Bulent Kenes to Türkiye, stressing the importance of this issue.

"Interestingly, their court rejected the deportation of Bulent Kenes to us," Erdogan added.

Kenes, the former editor-in-chief of Today's Zaman daily and a suspected member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), lives in Sweden.

In the defeated 2016 coup in Türkiye orchestrated by FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen, 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Saying that demonstrations by the terrorist PKK are often seen on the streets of the capital Stockholm, Erdogan underlined Türkiye repeatedly warned Sweden about this but "despite our warnings, unfortunately, there was no action on stopping PKK/PYD demonstrations."

The Turkish president also said Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop canceled his Swedish counterpart Andreas Norlen's visit to Türkiye in response to recent provocations of PKK terror group supporters carried out openly in the capital Stockholm.

"If they do not take a stand against this situation in Sweden, it could make tension in our ties with Sweden grow even more," he added, just days after a demonstration in Stockholm directly threatened Erdogan himself.

Terrorist groups tolerated in European countries, Türkiye will respond

Stressing that the terrorist groups have a presence not only in Sweden and Finland, Erdogan said they are also seen in such countries as Germany, France, and the UK, even though the PKK is on the official European Union list of terrorist groups.

"Türkiye will determine our attitude towards them accordingly," he stressed.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG/PYD is its Syrian branch.

Under a June memorandum between Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland, the two Nordic countries pledged to take steps against terrorists in order to gain membership in the NATO alliance, which they are seeking in light of the nearby Russian war on Ukraine.

Unanimous agreement from all NATO members – including Türkiye, a member for more than 70 years – is needed for any new members to be admitted to the alliance.

Türkiye has praised some steps taken by Sweden and Finland but says the countries needs to do more, particularly in the wake of a provocative terrorist demonstration last week in Stockholm, Sweden which directly threatened the Turkish president.

Playing unique role in the world, Türkiye’s ‘work isn’t done’

Emphasizing that Türkiye's role in global politics is unique, Erdogan said Türkiye was the country to solve the critical issue of the Black Sea grain corridor.

"Our work isn’t done. When everyone was attacking Russia, we did not. On the contrary, we maintained our ties with Mr. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. In fact, he made a nice offer, saying, 'Let me send grain for free’," said Erdogan.

In response, said Erdogan Türkiye pledged to make flour from the Russian grain and send it to African countries in need.

"Our goal now is to produce flour from the wheat and then send it to poor African countries. Because 44% went to Europe so far while 14% was sent to Africa. Now we will balance this and send it to African countries," he added.

Last July, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports blocked due to the war, risking a world food crisis.

A joint coordination center with officials from the three countries and the UN was set up in Istanbul to oversee the grain shipments.

The first ship carrying grain under the historic deal departed on Aug. 1 from the Ukrainian port of Odesa.

Türkiye, internationally praised for its unique mediator role between Ukraine and Russia, has repeatedly called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the war through negotiations.

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