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MP vows to sink budget if Sweden drops Turkey weapons ban

The Swedish independent MP Amineh Kakabaveh has said she will vote down the government's amendment budget next week if it does not commit to maintaining its ban on selling weapons to Turkey.

MP vows to sink budget if Sweden drops Turkey weapons ban
Amineh Kakabaveh takes part in a foreign policy debate in the Swedish parliament on June 10th. Photo: Christine Olsson / TT

Kakabaveh, who resigned from the Left Party in 2019, how holds the decisive vote in Sweden’s parliament, and she has been using the leverage this gives her to extract pledges from the government to support the Kurdish autonomous government in northern Syria. 

Turkey’s demand that Sweden ends its weapons ban is one of its key conditions to back Sweden’s bid for Nato membership, so ceding to Kakabaveh’s demand threatens to freeze the country’s Nato talks.  

Kakabaveh told Sweden’s TT newswire that if she did not use her position for the good of the Kurds, it would be tantamount to helping Turkey in its attacks. 

“It would be as if I was sending weapons there which are used against the Kurds,” she said. 

READ ALSO: What’s going on with pensions and Sweden’s budget? 

Sweden’s government hopes to submit an additional amendment budget to parliament next week which, if it wins Kakabaveh’s support, would allow it to pass its budget and honour a deal struck in November with the Left Party to hike monthly payments for the poorest pensioners. 

When Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg came to Sweden on Monday, he singled out dropping the arms ban as one of the “important steps” Sweden was making to overcome Turkey’s objections. 

“I welcome that Sweden has already started to change its counter-terrorism legislation and that Sweden will ensure that the legal framework for arms export will reflect the future status as a Nato member with new commitments to allies,” he said. 

Kakabaveh has now used her position to extract concessions four times: once last July, when parliament voted on whether  to return Stefan Löfven as prime minister, once in November, when Magdalena Andersson was elected PM, once in the run-up to the no-confidence vote in Sweden’s justice minister on June 7th, and now in the run-up to next week’s additional amendment budget vote. 

Sweden’s party system means that unless she finds a party willing to have her as a candidate, she will cease to be an MP after September’s election. 

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SWEDEN AND TURKEY

Sweden extradites first Turk since striking Nato deal

Sweden's government said on Thursday that it would hand over a Turkish citizen convicted of credit card fraud to Ankara, the first known extradition since Sweden struck a deal with Turkey promising to deal with extraditions "expeditiously and thoroughly".

Sweden extradites first Turk since striking Nato deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block both Sweden and Finland from NATO membership unless they meet several demands, including the extradition of people Ankara considers “terrorists”.

Erdogan accuses the two countries of being havens for Kurdish militants, specifically highlighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The man facing extradition was identified in Swedish court documents as Okan Kale, and was convicted in Turkey of credit card fraud in 2013 and 2016.

He sought asylum in Sweden in 2011 but his request was denied. He was granted refugee status in Italy in 2014. Kale’s name features on a list published in Turkish media of people that Ankara wants extradited from Sweden.

READ ALSO: 

The justice ministry would however not comment on whether the man was on a list drawn up by Turkey. It noted that Ankara had sought his extradition in 2021 — long before the Stockholm’s application to join the North Atlantic alliance in May.

“This is a regular, routine matter,” justice ministry spokeswoman Angelica Vallgren told AFP. “The extradition request was received last year.”

Kale has been held in Swedish custody since December 2021.

In an agreement signed by Sweden and Finland at a NATO summit in Madrid in late June, the two countries agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly”.

Erdogan said Sweden had made a “promise” to extradite “73 terrorists”.

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