Swedish Foreign Minister to visit Ankara amid tensions over Turkish journalist’s extradition

Swedish Foreign Minister to visit Ankara amid tensions over Turkish journalist’s extradition
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Turkish Foreign Ministry said two counterparts will discuss Sweden’s NATO membership process

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Bilistrom will pay a visit to Turkey on Thursday, amid tensions over a Swedish court’s rejecting the extradition of Turkish journalist Bulent Kenes that Ankara deems to be a “terrorist”.

The Scandinavian country’s NATO membership process will be discussed during the talks between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Swedish counterpart, Cavusoglu’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The tensions between the two countries have escalated following Sweden’s Supreme Court’s blocking the extradition Kenes on Monday that Ankara blames of being a Gulen movement supporter. According to Reuters, the court ruled that there are several hindrances against the extradition, adding that the allegations in part related to a political crime and that there was a risk of persecution based on this person's political views.

Denouncing the court’s decision as a “very negative development”, Cavusoglu on Tuesday said Turkey expected “concrete steps, not kind words” from Sweden regarding its bid to join NATO.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry said it was bound to act in accordance with the Supreme Court's ruling.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb.24, Sweden, alongside with Finland officially applied for NATO membership in May. While the vast majority of NATO members welcomed the two country’s applications, the final approval of the two Scandinavian countries’ NATO bids depends on the current 30 member states’ parliaments, where Ankara says it will not approve the documents if Stockholm and Helsinki fail to fulfil their commitments, regarding Turkey’s extradition requests of terror suspects.

Bulent Kenes, the former editor-in-chief of Today's Zaman, a newspaper affiliated with the Gulen movement was a defendant in a trial in Turkey against journalists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month singled out Kenes as a person Ankara wants to be extradited from Sweden as a condition for Turkey’s approval for Stockholm to join NATO.

Turkey blames the Islamic Gulen movement for trying to overthrow the Turkish government via a coup attempt held on July 15, 2016. Fethullah Gulen, the leader of the group who lives in thee United States, denies the accusations.