According to Sweden’s prime minister, Turkey will not fulfill all of the requirements Ankara has imposed for its support, but Sweden is confident that Turkey will accept its application to join the NATO military alliance.

During a security conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated, “Turkey both confirms that we have done what we said we would do, but they also say that they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them.”

In order to overcome Turkey’s objections to their membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Finland, Sweden, and Turkey entered into a three-way agreement in 2022.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the two Nordic nations submitted applications to become members of the military alliance in May. However, Turkey has voiced its disapproval of their membership and accused them of providing refuge to Kurdish rebels.

It said it wouldn’t let them join until both of them did what was asked of them, like joining Turkey to fight the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the United States and the European Union call a “terrorist group.”

The Kurdish diaspora, which has caused friction between the two countries, has strong ties to Sweden. People Turkey considers to be “terrorists” are also being sought by Turkey for extradition.

An important condition for Ankara to ratify Stockholm’s membership in NATO, the extradition of Turkish journalist Bulent Kenes, who has been living in exile, was stopped in December by the Supreme Court of Sweden. Turkey has said that Kenes tried to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a coup in 2016.

Turkey also wants to extradite 33 people from Sweden and Finland who are suspected of being Kurdish fighters and plotting a coup.

Turkey praised Sweden for responding to its security concerns at the end of December, but stressed that more was required to gain Ankara’s full support for Stockholm’s stalled NATO membership application.

Among the thirty NATO members, only Hungary and Turkey have not yet approved their respective applications.

Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, has stated that the parliament will soon approve Sweden’s and Finland’s applications for membership, leaving Turkey as the sole obstacle.

While acknowledging that the decision is contingent on the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg stated that he anticipates Sweden and Finland joining the alliance as early as this year.

Stoltenberg stated, “I expect [that] accession will take place in 2023, but I will not guarantee the exact date, because it is of course a sovereign decision of the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments, [which] have not yet ratified the agreement.” He added, “I will not guarantee the exact date.”

He continued, stating that “the time has come to finalise the accession process and to ratify the accession protocol” and that Finland and Sweden “are clearly committed to long-term cooperation with Turkey.”

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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