Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Sunday that Turkey has made demands for Sweden that it cannot fulfill as part of Ankara’s conditions for the Nordic nation to join NATO.
“Turkey confirms that we have done what we said we would do. But they also say that they want things that we can’t and won’t give them. So the decision is now with Turkey,” said Kristersson, who was sworn in as prime minister in October.
Sweden and Finland signed a deal with Turkey to join NATO last June, but Turkey’s parliament still hasn’t approved their membership. Ankara says its main problem with the two countries is their alleged support for the PKK, a Kurdish militant group Turkey, the US, and the EU consider a terrorist organization.
Turkey is seeking the extradition of suspected PKK members and other individuals from Sweden, but so far, Stockholm has only extradited one person. Sweden’s supreme court also blocked the extradition of a Turkish journalist wanted by Ankara for his alleged role in a failed coup. Kristersson said that Sweden was fulfilling the deal it signed with Turkey but said it has to follow deportation laws.
Turkey appears to have more demands of Stockholm, but Sweden and Finland have said that their memberships are linked and that they would only join together. “Finland is not in such a rush to join Nato that we can’t wait until Sweden gets the green light,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Sunday.
Internal Turkish politics could be at play in Ankara’s delay, as Turkey’s next presidential election will be held in June. Western officials have said they expect Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to delay approving Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids for several more months to get as many concessions as possible before the election.
Hungary is the only other NATO member that has yet to approve of Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, but the Hungarian parliament is expected to vote on the issue in the coming weeks. The two Nordic nations joining NATO will raise tensions in the region with Moscow as Finland shares an over 800-mile border with Russia.