Sweden must extradite “terrorists” if it wants to join NATO, the Turkish justice minister said, following what Ankara described as the disappointing first extradition to Turkey of a Turk convicted of common criminal law offences.
“If they think they will be able to make Turkey believe that they have kept their promises by extraditing common criminal law criminals, they are deluded,” Minister Bekir Bozdag said in an interview published today by “Milliyet” newspaper.
Since mid-May, Turkey, a member of NATO, has blocked the process of expanding the Atlantic alliance with the inclusion of Sweden and Finland, accusing the two countries of protecting Kurdish fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units ( YPG), organizations that Ankara characterizes as terrorist.
At the end of June, the foreign ministers of Turkey, Sweden and Finland had nevertheless signed a memorandum of agreement opening the access of the two Nordic countries to the Atlantic alliance.
The next day, Turkey had made requests to the two countries for the extradition of 33 people, most of whom are considered “terrorists” by Ankara.
“We have not received any response regarding the extradition of FETO members [ακρωνύμιο που χρησιμοποιεί η Άγκυρα για την οργάνωση του ιεροκήρυκα Φετουλάχ Γκιουλέν, ο οποίος κατηγορείται από τις τουρκικές αρχές ότι υποκίνησε την απόπειρα πραξικοπήματος του Ιουλίου 2016]of the PKK and other terrorist organizations,” the Turkish minister said.
“Letters reiterating our demands have been sent to our foreign ministry and from there to the countries concerned,” he added.
The name of Okan Kale – he is the first Turkish national whose extradition request was accepted by Sweden – was included in the list of 33 names published at the end of June by the Turkish media. Kale had been convicted of fraud.
A meeting between Turkey, Finland and Sweden regarding the two countries’ NATO accession process is scheduled to take place on August 26. The meeting will take place in Sweden, according to Swedish media.
Around 20 NATO member states – out of 30 in total – have already ratified the request for membership of the two Nordic countries.