Sweden's new PM seeks to win Türkiye’s approval for NATO membership

Sweden's new PM seeks to win Türkiye’s approval for NATO membership

Swedens new PM seeks to win Türkiye’s approval for NATO membership

Sweden’s new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, has pledged to make legal amendments by 2023 for better coping with terrorist groups, including the illegal PKK group.

Kristersson met with Turkish officials in Ankara on Nov. 8 in an effort to clinch Turkish approval for his country’s bid to join NATO.

Ahead of his scheduled talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on late Nov. 8, Kristersson met with Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop.

At the beginning of his delegation’s meeting with Şentop, Kristersson stated that Sweden wants to strengthen its national security and be a provider for the security of the region and that his government’s one of the primary tasks will be the struggle against crime, especially organized crime.

The new legislation will enable his government to prevent recruitment by terrorist groups, and Swedish law enforcement officials will better proceed with investigations and take decisions for the extradition of these people, Kristersson stated.

It has been much more obvious now that Sweden previously underestimated that the “people in Sweden related with the terrorist organization PKK with a purpose of hurting not mainly Sweden, but Türkiye,” the prime minister said.

“With the new legislation we will be more able to fight these crimes in Sweden and stop these people entering Sweden with those aims,” he added.

His government will take steps in constitutional amendment in this regard by 2023, which will maintain a better fight against terror, Kristersson said.

Recalling that it had been only three weeks since he assumed the prime ministry, Kristersson said he paid the second foreign visit to Türkiye.

The group leader of his party in the parliament has started to make relevant communications in the Swedish parliament for the establishment of the Türkiye Friendship Group, he added.

Forgetting that Sweden’s security passes through Türkiye’s security is a contradiction, Şentop said.

Şentop emphasized that Ankara gladly followed the statements of the Swedish government that they were bound by the commitments signed under the tripartite memorandum of understanding.

There are areas where progress has been made on this roadmap, and Ankara asses them positively, he added.

“For example, lifting the restrictions in the defense industry will take a positive place in our parliament’s assessment of Sweden’s NATO membership. However, it must be admitted that there are still many steps to be taken,” he stated.

Şentop stated that Türkiye has a positive approach to NATO’s enlargement policy, as well as to the membership of Sweden and Finland, without prejudice and in principle.

“Türkiye trusted the tripartite agreement and, in good faith, allowed the process to begin. However, I would like to underline once again that Türkiye’s concerns and demands are completely justified.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said it was difficult to say that Sweden and Finland have fully fulfilled the provisions of the trilateral protocol despite taking some steps.

Addressing the budget talks at the parliament, the minister underlined that the upcoming meeting of the joined mechanism in Stockholm would have critical importance to determine the steps to be taken.

Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied for membership in the military alliance after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, fearing that Russian President Vladimir Putin might target them next.

But Türkiye has been holding off on endorsing their bids, accusing them of ignoring Ankara’s security concerns. Ankara is pressing the two countries to crack down on terrorists, including supporters of the PKK and FETÖ.

Türkiye also has called for the lifting of an arms embargo imposed following its 2019 incursion into northern Syria to combat YPG members. Sweden last month said it would lift the embargo, a step seen as aiming to secure Ankara’s approval.

Sweden’s new center-right government is taking a harder line not just toward the PKK but also toward the YPG and their political branch, PYD. Türkiye regards the YPG as the Syrian arm of the PKK.