On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threat to block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, warning that Ankara could “freeze” their NATO bids if Turkey’s demands are not met.
Turkey agreed to lift its objection to Sweden and Finland joining NATO last month after signing a 10-part memorandum with the Nordic nations. Under the deal, Sweden and Finland agreed not to support Kurdish militant groups and to respond to Turkey’s extradition requests.
“I want to reiterate once again that we will freeze the process if these countries do not take the necessary steps to fulfill our conditions,” Erdogan said. The issue of extradition appears to be the main sticking point for Erdogan.
Turkey is seeking the extradition of suspected members of Kurdish militant groups and people associated with the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of attempting a coup in 2016. Earlier this month, Turkey’s justice minister said Ankara renewed its extradition requests with Sweden and Finland.
The Swedish government is under domestic pressure not to extradite people and give in to Turkey’s demands, and Erdogan hinted that Stockholm might not cooperate. “We particularly note that Sweden does not have a good image on this issue,” he said.
All 30 NATO members signed accession protocols for Sweden and Finland, which sends their memberships to be approved by each nation’s legislature. While Turkey signed off on the protocols, its officials said from the start that the Turkish parliament could block the Nordic nations’ NATO bids if they don’t fulfill their end of the memorandum.