Turkey praises Swedish gov’t’s steps but expects more for joining NATO

Turkey praises Swedish gov’t’s steps but expects more for joining NATO
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Cavusoglu said Turkey is aware that the new Swedish government is more “sincere” in fighting terrorism

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara welcomes the new Swedish government’s steps taken towards NATO membership, but it expects more to meet its security concerns.

“We need to see concrete steps," Cavusoglu said in a press briefing in Bucharest on Wednesday, commenting over the trilateral meeting with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts on the sidelines of a NATO gathering on Tuesday.

Cavusoglu said Turkey needs to see the laws "implemented" over the issues such as the extradition of criminals and freezing of terror assets, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkey’s top diplomat also called on Sweden to end “terrorist activities” on its soil.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb.24, 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 fulfil their commitments, regarding Turkey’s extradition requests.

During the meeting with Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers, “We welcomed the steps taken [towards membership] and the determination of the new Swedish government, which is more determined than the previous one," Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

"Separately from NATO accession bids, we're aware that the new government is more sincere in fighting terrorism," he said.

A new Swedish government led by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson took power in October. Soon after taking over the office, Kristersson paid a visit to Turkey in a move to convince President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to let Sweden join the military alliance.

Following the latest terror attacks in Turkey, Sweden has made much more stronger statements than some other (NATO) allies, Cavusoglu said.

"Such statements are good, determination is good but we need to see concrete steps. We addressed these openly and agreed to continue our efforts together in this regard," he added.