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Sweden moves closer to NATO as it bows to Turkish President Erdogan’s demands — MercoPress

Sweden moves closer to NATO as it bows to Turkish President Erdogan’s demands — MercoPress


Sweden moves closer to NATO as it bows to Turkish President Erdogan’s demands

Thursday, June 8, 2023 – 15:59 UTC

Turkey asks Sweden to hand over several individuals whom it considers to be
Turkey asks Sweden to hand over several individuals it considers ‘terrorists’ as a precondition for approving Sweden’s application to join NATO

The Swedish Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the extradition of a supporter of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) to Turkey. The decision paves the way for the government in Stockholm to respond to Turkey’s request to hand over several individuals it considers ‘terrorists’ as a precondition for approving Sweden’s application to join the alliance NATO military.

Sweden and neighboring Finland applied for membership in May 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine, but Turkey – alongside Hungary – refused to endorse Sweden’s application. Membership requires the unanimous approval of members.

Although the central government in Stockholm must make the final decision, the decision of the Supreme Court is required by Swedish law before the government can grant such requests from another state.

The decision comes after the re-election in May of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and days before Sweden and Turkey resume NATO membership talks.

The 35-year-old in question is believed to have moved to Sweden in 2018 after being granted early parole while serving a four-year, seven-month prison sentence. He was arrested again last August at the request of Turkish prosecutors who now want him to serve the rest of the 2014 sentence.

The man admitted he committed the drug-related crimes for which he was convicted and said he was granted early parole for good behavior. He has been in pre-trial detention since his new arrest in 2022.

Addressing the court, the man said he suspected the real reason Ankara was seeking his extradition was his Kurdish ethnicity and the fact that he was working to promote Kurdish interests.

He is a member of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a pro-Kurdish political party, and supports both the PKK and YPG militias. The PKK and YPG, which are active in Syria, are banned in Turkey and President Erdogan accuses the HDP of being directly linked to the PKK – a charge the HDP denies.

In announcing its decision, the court said that an extradition does not violate Swedish law or the European Convention on Human Rights.

During its hearing on the matter, the court asked Turkish prosecutors whether the man would be investigated or charged with the crimes of ‘propagation for a terrorist organization’ or ‘insulting the president’ – vague laws that allow the Turkish authorities to imprison people they consider to be political opponents. Turkish prosecutors assured the court that the man was not under any suspicion.

Ankara’s government has jailed thousands of political opponents it says were involved in a failed coup attempt in 2016, as well as others linked to the Kurdish independence movement.

Turkish President Erdogan has accused Sweden of harboring “terrorists” and said he would vote against Sweden joining NATO if Stockholm does not extradite them. Kurds living in Sweden say they face political persecution in Türkiye.

Sweden and neighboring Finland reversed their longstanding policy of military non-alignment last year by seeking NATO membership. Finland became the thirty-first member of NATO on April 4 this year.




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