Akar: Sweden, Finland should take concrete steps for NATO bid

Akar: Sweden, Finland should take concrete steps for NATO bid
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Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that “some provocative actions and images” still took place in the Nordic countries

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Tuesday said Turkey expected Sweden and Finland to take "concrete steps" to prevent what Turkey says “terror propaganda” in their countries if they want Turkey to unblock their NATO bids.

"We are closely following the situation in Sweden and Finland. Unfortunately, we still see some provocative actions and images in these countries. We expect both Sweden and Finland to take concrete steps," Akar told reporters.

Akar's remarks came ahead of his meeting with Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen on Thursday. During talks in the capital Ankara, Akar and Kaikkonen will discuss bilateral defense and security issues, as well as Finland's NATO membership process.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Sweden and Finland that have a long history of neutrality in military conflicts, officially applied for NATO membership in May. While the vast majority of NATO members welcomed the two country’s applications, Turkey, the second largest army in the alliance, opposed the bids, citing Stockholm and Helsinki’s “failure” to combat threats to Turkey’s security.

After Sweden and Finland promised to address Ankara’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects, Turkey dropped its objections against their membership applications, allowing the military organization to formally invite the two countries for joining the military alliance at a Madrid summit in June.

But the final approval depends on the current member states’ parliaments. The NATO accession protocols for Sweden and Finland need to be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 members, where Ankara says it will not approve the documents if Stockholm and Helsinki fail to fulfill their commitments, regarding Turkey’s extradition requests.

"There are commitments signed by Sweden and Finland ... they must be fulfilled ... the memorandum is a beginning, not an end. After these are done, the Turkish parliament will make its decision. We are also trying to help Sweden and Finland," Akar added.

Sweden on Friday deported Mahmut Tat, a Turkish citizen who had sought asylum in Sweden in 2015 after being sentenced in Turkey to six years and 10 months in jail for "being member of a terrorist organization," essentially over a statement and accusations by a former member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who had turned informer.

Tat says that he didn't have a fair trial in Turkey, that the court ruled against him solely on the basis of allegations by an informer, and that these allegations are groundless. He was arrested and incarcerated upon his arrival in Turkey

After Tat’s extradition, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said: "This is a good start from Sweden that shows their sincerity and goodwill. We hope new (extraditions) will follow in line with this sincerity."