ANKARA, Turkey ( Associated Press) — Turkey may still “freeze” Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership unless the two countries take steps that meet Ankara’s security demands, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday. .
Turkey last month raised its objection to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, but warned it would block the process if they did not extradite suspects with links to illegal Kurdish groups or the network of an exiled cleric accused of orchestrating a failed coup. in 2016.
The Nordic countries’ accession still needs to be approved by the parliaments of the 30 NATO members and Turkey’s parliament could refuse to ratify the deal.
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“I would like to remind once again that if these countries do not take the necessary steps to meet our conditions, we will freeze the (accession) process,” Erdogan said in a televised speech after a cabinet meeting. “Our position on this issue is very clear. The rest is up to them.”
Erdogan said Sweden in particular was not “projecting a good image” but did not elaborate.
There was no immediate reaction from Sweden and Finland to Erdogan’s comments.
Turkey accuses the two countries of being too lenient with groups it sees as threats to national security. Turkey’s justice minister said earlier this month that the government had renewed extradition requests for terror suspects wanted by his country.
Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a joint memorandum during a NATO summit last month that allowed the alliance to move forward by inviting the Nordic countries into the military alliance it seeks to expand and strengthen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
With the memorandum, Finland and Sweden agreed to address “pending requests for the deportation or extradition of terror suspects from Turkey in an expeditious and comprehensive manner… in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition.”