Turkey’s justice minister has announced that his country will seek the extradition of 33 alleged Kurdish fighters and coup plot suspects from Sweden and Finland under a deal that secured Turkish support for the two Nordic countries’ NATO membership bid.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped weeks of resistance to Sweden and Finland’s ambitions to join NATO at talks on Tuesday ahead of a summit of the military alliance in Madrid, Spain.
Erdogan emerged from the meeting with Nordic leaders having secured a 10-point agreement under which the two countries vowed to join Turkey’s fight against banned armed groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and to swiftly extradite suspects to Turkey.
“The dossiers of six PKK members, six FETO members await in Finland, while those of 10 FETO members and 11 PKK members await in Sweden. We will write about their extradition again after the agreement and remind them,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was cited as saying by Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency.
Erdogan has previously accused Finland and particularly Sweden of providing a safe haven for Kurdish fighters.
The agreement states that “Finland and Sweden confirm that the PKK is a proscribed terrorist organisation” and that Sweden and Finland vow to “not provide support” to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a PKK offshoot in Syria that played an instrumental role in the United States-led alliance against ISIL (ISIS).
Finland and Sweden also pledge to “address Turkey’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly”.
The agreement also states that “Finland and Sweden commit to prevent activities of the PKK and all other terrorist organisations and their extensions, as well as activities by individuals… linked to these terrorist organisations.”
The European Union and Washington both recognise the PKK as a “terrorist” organisation.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland abandoned decades of military non-alignment and were formally invited into the NATO alliance at Wednesday’s summit in Madrid.
‘Got what it wanted’
Erdogan’s office hailed the agreement with Sweden and Finland as a victory.
“Turkey got what it wanted,” his office declared in a statement.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Wednesday told reporters in Madrid that his country had not been “presented any claims for now, as far as I know”.
A day earlier, the Finnish leader said the signed memorandum did not list any individuals for extradition and that Helsinki would continue to respect European rules when making extradition decisions.
“We don’t in fact have any unsettled extradition requests at the moment. We have processed 14 out of 16 (requests by Turkey) and two decisions have been blocked by the fact that the targets have not been located,” Niinisto told reporters.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Stockholm would continue to follow local and international laws in its extraditions, adding that her country will not extradite any Swedish citizens.
“We never extradite anyone who is a Swedish citizen, and I know some of those who have expressed concerns are Swedish citizens, so they don’t need to worry,” she said.
“We will of course, as before, follow Swedish and international law … this means that if one is not conducting terrorism activity, one doesn’t need to be worried.”