Swedish PM says NATO talks with Turkey progressing well

Swedish PM says NATO talks with Turkey progressing well
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Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described his recent comments about his country’s inability to meet Turkey’s demands regarding NATO membership as “a misunderstanding”

Sweden has sought to tone down its criticism of Turkey for blocking its NATO membership, stressing that its negotiations with Ankara were “going very well” despite little sign of a potential breakthrough.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Sunday said the country had done what it could to meet Turkey’s demands and would do no more, but on Wednesday he told reporters there had been a “misunderstanding”, and that he respected Ankara’s right to make its own decision on ratification.

“We are doing exactly what we promised to do, that is not least in the field of fighting terrorism,” Kristersson told reporters in Stockholm. “I think that has been one of the core tasks — to strengthen the Swedish legislation on counterterrorism, recognizing the fact that activities on Swedish soil can be dangerous for other countries, can be aimed at others countries, and also recognizing the fact that Turkey has been one of the countries hurt the most by terrorism.”

Turkey, Sweden and Finland agreed in a June memorandum to a list of steps Stockholm would take to secure Ankara’s support, including distancing itself from a Kurdish militia, lifting an embargo on weapons exports to Turkey and stressing it would work to combat terrorism.

“Turkey sometimes names people that they would like to have extradited from Sweden and it’s well known that Swedish legislation on that … is very clear: that courts [make] those decisions, there is no room for changing that,” Krissterson said. “I don’t think that should shadow the fact that things are going well.”

A Swedish court last month blocked the extradition of Bulent Kenes, an exiled Turkish journalist who was singled out by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as one individual Sweden had to extradite in exchange for Ankara’s NATO green light.

Turkey and EU member state Hungary are the only two Nato members yet to ratify Sweden and Finland’s membership, which requires unanimous support of the alliance’s 30 states.