Turkey will not ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership application “until the promises” made by the two countries are “fulfilled,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
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“As long as the promises made to our country are not kept, we will stick to our principled position,” Erdogan declared before the Turkish National Assembly, who has been threatening since mid-May to block the accession of the two Nordic countries to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO ).
“We are closely following whether the promises made by Sweden and Finland are being kept or not, and the final decision is of course up to our grand assembly,” the head of state added.
Mr Erdogan, who insisted on the importance of the “fight against terrorism,” accused the two countries of protecting Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and People’s Defense Units, who are viewed by Ankara as terrorists.
To date, 28 out of thirty member states of the Atlantic Alliance have ratified the accession of Sweden and Finland.
Only Hungary and Turkey have yet to give their final approval to Parliament.
In a major gesture of concession to Turkey to get the green light from Ankara to join NATO, Sweden announced on Friday that it has re-authorized exports of military equipment to Turkey.
The lifting of these restrictions was one of the conditions set by Ankara.
During the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June, Sweden, Finland and Turkey signed a memorandum opening up the two Nordic nations’ accession to NATO.
But the Turkish president immediately threatened to veto the agreement if certain conditions were not met.
A Swedish delegation is due to visit Turkey for further negotiations on Wednesday and Thursday. A tripartite meeting had already taken place in Finland at the end of August.
One of the most sensitive points concerns dozens of extradition requests from Ankara opponents – mainly Kurdish activists or the Gülenist movement.
Stockholm and Helsinki emphasize that the process is subject to court decisions independent of the executive.
At the beginning of September, Finland had rejected Turkey’s request for the review of six extradition requests.
Sweden in August approved the first extradition of a Turkish national since the Madrid Accords, but the file concerned credit card fraud.