Sweden ratifies anti-terror law amid NATO bid

Sweden ratifies anti-terror law amid NATO bid

Sweden ratifies anti-terror law amid NATO bid

The Swedish parliament has approved a new anti-terrorism law, in an attempt by the Nordic country to address Türkiye’s security concerns about its NATO membership.

The revision includes a prison term of up to four years for individuals convicted of participating in an extremist organization in a way that is intended to promote, strengthen or support the group. However, the penalty can be increased to eight years when a crime is deemed serious.

The legislation allows for someone identified as a leader of a terror organization to receive a life sentence, which in Sweden generally means a minimum of 20-25 years.

The bill, which passed on a 268-34 vote with 47 lawmakers absent, made it illegal to finance, recruit for or publicly encourage a terrorist organization, as well as traveling abroad with the intention of joining such a group.

The revisions are set to take effect June 1.

Türkiye has accused Sweden of failing to take concrete steps to crack down on groups that Ankara lists as terror organizations or considers existential threats, including Kurdish groups.

Sweden’s center-right government has taken a harder line not just toward the PKK, but also toward the militia group YPG and its political branch, PYD. Türkiye regards the YPG as the Syrian arm of the PKK.

Sweden and Finland jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022, abandoning decades of non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Finland became the Western military alliance’s 31st member nation in April, opposition from Türkiye and Hungary stalled the Swedish bid. NATO requires unanimous approval to admit new members.

Türkiye, Sweden and Finland established a mechanism after a memorandum was signed in late June last year when the Nordic states pledged to support Türkiye’s fight against terrorism and agreed to address Ankara’s pending deportation or extradition requests for “terror” suspects. The mechanism is the venue to assess the progress made in meeting Türkiye’s concerns.

Türkiye will consider paving the way for the NATO membership of Sweden after the country adopts its anti-terror law in June, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said.

“The more effectively the anti-terror law, which will come into force on June 1, is implemented, the faster the process will progress,” he stated.

“We are planning the next joint mechanism meeting in June, again with the participation of Finland. The tripartite mechanism will continue after Finland’s accession.”

Ankara says Sweden should take more concrete steps in terms of fighting anti-Türkiye terror on its soil in order to be admitted to NATO.