What’s in the agreement?
The trilateral memorandum between Turkey, Sweden and Finland, goes a long way to giving Turkey what it has been asking for in the negotiations which started in May.
In the document, Sweden and Finland commit to:
- Stopping giving support to either the YPG (People’s Defense Units), the Kurdish militia fighting in northern Syria, or to the PYD (Democratic Union Party), the political party which runs the government in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, and will also not support the Gülen movement.
- Resuming weapons sales to Turkey (which Sweden had stopped).
- Handling extradition requests from Turkey for people it suspects of terrorism “expeditiously and thoroughly, taking into account information, evidence and intelligence provided by Türkiye”.
This, together with a commitment to intelligence cooperation with Turkey and a strong statement that the PKK is a terror group, goes a long way to meeting the five demands Turkey published at the end of May.
Erdogan’s office hailed the agreement, saying Ankara had “got what it wanted”.
What’s not in the agreement?
The most striking change in the language used in the treaty is that it does not describe the PYD, YPG, or the Gülen movement, led by the Sunni Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, as terror groups.
Turkey originally insisted on referring to the PKK/PYD as a single entity. It treated the PYD, which has cooperated closely with the US and been supported strongly by Sweden, as one and the same as the PKK, which Sweden, together with the US and the rest of the EU, designates as a terror group.
While Sweden does commit to withdrawing its support for the PYD, it has not condemned it.
Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, denies charges of plotting the 2016 coup attempt, and is not viewed as a terrorist leader by the US or Sweden.
According to Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, ending Sweden’s support for the PYD does not mean it will stop providing humanitarian support to Kurds in northern Syria.
“We have agreed that Sweden and Finland are not going to support these organisations in any way which impacts on Turkey’s security, like weapons or money,” she told Swedish state broadcaster SR. “And we don’t do that today anyway.”
What results has the agreement had so far?
Most obviously, Turkey has dropped its objection to Sweden and Finland becoming Nato members. Nato’s 30 ambassadors will on Wednesday agree to formally invite Sweden and Finland to become members.
On Wednesday morning, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Turkey would now ask for the extradition of 12 suspects from Finland and 21 from Sweden who are either members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or alleged members of a Gülen-led group.
What has the political reaction been in Sweden?
The Left Party, the Green Party, and the independent MP Amineh Kakabaveh have all condemned the deal.
- Kakabaveh has threatened to call a no-confidence vote in foreign minister Ann Linde, but is unlikely to get sufficient backing to hold it.
- The Left Party has demanded a meeting of party leaders to discuss the agreement.
- The Green Party has said it will call Linde before the parliament’s foreign policy committee for questioning.
“It marks a dark day in Swedish political history that we need to negotiate with an Islamic dictator,” Kakabaveh told state broadcaster SVT on Wednesday morning. “The Kurds have been sacrificed in this cynical political approach. Why should the Kurds be sacrificed for Nato membership? Why is Sweden bending over for Erdogan?”
Green Party joint-leader Märta Stenevi called the changes on weapons exports and extraditions “extremely worrying” while announcing her party’s decision to call Linde to the committee.
MP begär att utrikesminister Ann Linde kommer till utrikesutskottet så snart som möjligt och redogör för vad avtalet med Turkiet och Erdogan innebär och vad S-regeringen gått med på. Mycket oroande förändringar kring bland annat vapenexport och utvisningar.
— Märta Stenevi (@martastenevi) June 29, 2022
Håkan Svenneling, foreign policy spokesperson for the Left Party, said the agreement marked a “major shift” in Swedish foreign policy, which was “not wholly transparent”.
“We need to tease out what the agreement actually means, as so far it is not completely clear,” he said. But he said that he did not expect a no-confidence vote in Linde.
“It’s difficult to see how a no-confidence vote could be carried out, both practically now that the parliament has closed for the summer, and when it comes to getting enough support.”