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NATO

Turkey calls on Sweden to extradite 33 ‘terror suspects’

Turkey said Wednesday it would seek the extradition of 33 terror suspects from Sweden and Finland under a deal that paved the way for the country to back the Nordic countries' Nato membership bids.

Turkey calls on Sweden to extradite 33 'terror suspects'
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during his party's group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Photo: Adem Altan/AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lifted his opposition to Sweden and Finland joining Nato after crunch talks ahead of the Nato summit starting on June 29th, in return for written security guarantees.

Turkey immediately put the new agreement to the test, with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announcing that Turkey would seek the extradition of alleged Kurdish militants and members of a group that Erdogan blames for a failed 2016 coup attempt.

“We will seek the extradition of terrorists from the relevant countries within the framework of the new agreement,” Bozdag was quoted as saying by NTV television.

Bozdag said Turkey would now ask for the extradition of 12 suspects from Finland and 21 from Sweden who were either members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or alleged members of a group led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen.

The PKK, which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, is blacklisted by Turkey, the EU and the United States. Gülen, a former ally of Erdogan, denies charges of plotting the 2016 coup attempt.

The three-way memorandum signed on Tuesday says that Finland and Sweden pledge to “address Turkey’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly”.

The two countries also agreed to lift their embargoes on weapons deliveries to Turkey, which were imposed in response to Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into Syria.

Erdogan’s office hailed the agreement, saying Turkey had “got what it wanted”.

Russia said on Wednesday that the Nato summit in Madrid served as proof that the alliance was seeking to contain Russia and that it saw Finland and Sweden’s Nato bids as a “destabilising” factor.

“The summit in Madrid confirms and consolidates this bloc’s policy of aggressive containment of Russia,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Russian news agencies.

“We consider the expansion of the North Atlantic alliance to be a purely destabilising factor in international affairs.”

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NATO

US President Biden signs ratification of Swedish Nato bid

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed US ratification of bids by Finland and Sweden to enter Nato, taking expansion of the Western alliance in response to Russia's Ukraine invasion one step closer.

US President Biden signs ratification of Swedish Nato bid

Biden said the two northern European countries would become “strong, reliable highly capable new allies” by making the “sacred commitment” to
mutual defense in the US-led transatlantic alliance.

Earlier this month, the Senate voted 95-1 in favor of the Nordic states’ accession, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 NATO countries to give formal endorsement. Unanimous support is needed for new membership.

Biden, who has made restoring traditional US alliances a cornerstone of his administration after Donald Trump’s move to upend ties around the world,
praised NATO as “the foundation of American security.”

“The United States is committed to the transatlantic alliance.”

Biden also praised Finland and Sweden, saying both have “strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies” that
would now bolster NATO.

President Vladimir Putin’s Russia “shattered peace and security in Europe” by invading Ukraine, Biden said. “Putin thought he could break us apart…. Instead, he is getting exactly what he did not want.”

The White House said that ahead of the signing ceremony, Biden talked by telephone with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s
President Sauli Niinisto.

“President Biden congratulated them on the US Senate’s swift, bipartisan ratification of their NATO accession protocols, and welcomed Finland and Sweden moving one step closer to becoming NATO Allies,” the White House said.

While the process plays out, “President Biden affirmed that the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security, and to deter and confront aggression or threat of aggression,” the statement said.

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