Sweden’s foreign minister on Monday said that the new Swedish government will work to fulfill a deal signed with Turkey that is required for the Nordic nation to join NATO.
Turkish officials appeared to be at odds with the previous more left-leaning government when it came to the NATO agreement. But Ulf Kristersson took over as Sweden’s new prime minister last week as part of a coalition government considered to be center-right in Swedish politics.
Turkey initially blocked Sweden and Finland from applying to join NATO but lifted its objection in June after signing a memorandum with the two countries. Turkey’s main concerns were over the two countries’ alleged support for the PKK, a Kurdish militant group that Turkey, the EU, and the US consider a terrorist organization.
“There will be no nonsense from the Swedish government when it comes to the PKK,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström. “We are fully behind a policy which means that terrorist organizations don’t have a right to function on Swedish territory.”
Turkey is looking to extradite dozens of suspected PKK members from Sweden and the previous government didn’t seem willing to comply. Under the memorandum, Sweden agreed to reply to Turkey’s extradition requests, although it didn’t say explicitly that they all must be fulfilled.
One step that the previous Swedish government did take that was required by the memorandum was the lifting of an arms embargo that Sweden imposed on Turkey. Billström said that all aspects of the memorandum must be fulfilled.
“Everything which is written into the trilateral memorandum, and which has been agreed upon by all three parties, should be fulfilled, needs to be fulfilled by all the three parties,” he said.
Turkey has warned that its parliament would not approve Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids if they don’t cooperate with the memorandum. So far, 28 out of 30 NATO members’ legislatures have approved their NATO applications. Turkey and Hungary are the only alliance members that have yet to approve their joining.