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.”