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How have Sweden’s Kurds reacted to the Turkey Nato deal?

Sweden's deal with Turkey has shocked the country's large Kurdish population, with some seeing it as a betrayal, but most confident that they, themselves are not at risk.

How have Sweden's Kurds reacted to the Turkey Nato deal?
Shiyar Ali, the representative in Sweden for the PYD, described the agreement "as bowing down before a dictator". Photo: Maja Suslin/TT


The Left party MP Yekbun Alp, told DN on Wednesday that she was “still shocked” by what had been in the agreement.

“I’ve been deluged with calls since 3am last night from Kurds who are worried about what this might mean,” she said. “Many people have been asking me if they are on the list.” 

Shiyar Ali, the representative in Sweden of the PYD-led government of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, told DN that his first thought on reading the agreement was that Sweden was “bowing down before a dictator”. 

“I think of all the journalists and elected MPs who are now sitting imprisoned in Turkey, where there’s no respect for human rights,” he said. “Turkey is an occupying power in Syria, so making this agreement with Erdogan does not feel right. It feels worrying.”

Worrying vagueness 

Ali said that the agreement was worryingly vague on how the extraditions from Sweden, and intelligence coordination between the two countries would work. 

“Who is a terrorist? Who decides? Which laws and rules apply?” he complained. “That part of the agreement is extremely unclear. There are no details, and that makes one worried.” 

He pointed out that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tended to describe almost any of his political opponents, particularly those from a Kurdish background as “terrorists”.  “Where does the border lie. Erdogan calls everyone terrorists,” he said. 

Yekbun Alp pointed out that she was one of the five Swedish Kurds accused by name in the Turkiye Gazetesi newspaper for cooperating with the PKK, a group that Sweden, as well as Turkey classes as a terrorist organisation. 

“In my work, I have stood up for democracy and human rights and been a voice for the Kurdish people,” she said. “And that makes Turkey uncomfortable, so they call me a terrorist, so if that’s what they mean by terrorist, then I’m proud of it. But I’ve never supported violence or terrorism. I believe in peaceful dialogue.” 

The journalist Levent Kenez said he was not surprised that he had been accused by Turkey as being a terrorist. 

“Erdogan describes all opposition as terrorists,” he said. 

Most do not fear being extradited 
Neither Ali nor Alp, nor the Turkish dissidents and journalists who have been subjected to extradition requests from Turkey, seemed to fear that Sweden would end up sending them to Turkey. 
Ali told TT that the risk was “extremely minimal” that he would be hit by by an extradition request under the agreement, but he said that it had anyway returned the feeling of insecurity he had before he left Syria to come to Sweden 32 years ago. “I’ve got that feeling again, and I think that is unpleasant.” 
Ragip Zarakolu, a Turkish human rights activist and publisher living in Sweden, told SVT that the agreement should be seen as “a kind of harassment” of dissident Turks and Kurds, aimed at “damaging the peaceful life of dissidents who live outside of Turkey”. 
Kenez, whose extradition Sweden’s Supreme Court turned down last year, told SVT that he did not see Sweden as more likely to extradite him now. “I’m a journalist,” he said. “And that’s not a crime.”  

Member comments

  1. This Prime Minister is CORRUPT and has sold Sweden to the highest bidder . She was so desperate to stay in power after her eight hour emabarrasment she did anything the Americans and British told her to do . This is a dangerous Government the likes that has never been seen in modern day Sweden . She will be complicit in murder and torture if she hands any Kurd residing in Sweden over to the Turks knowing what they do to so called terrorists . I call for the Ombudsman of the Swedish Parliament to impeach the Prime Minister and her Foreign Minister and for their Bank Accounts to be frozen until a thorough investigation into deposits both domestically and internationally be carried out as I suspect bribery .

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Turkey forms ‘permanent committee’ to assess Swedish Nato deal

Turkey on Thursday said a new "permanent committee" would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess if the two nations are complying with Ankara's conditions to ratify their Nato membership bids.

Turkey forms 'permanent committee' to assess Swedish Nato deal

Finland and Sweden dropped their history of military non-alignment and announced plans to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of
February. All 30 Nato members must ratify the accession.

Nato member Turkey has demanded the extradition of dozens of suspected “terrorists” from both countries under an accession deal the three signed last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to “freeze” the process over Sweden and Finland’s failure to extradite the suspects.

He accuses them of providing a haven for outlawed Kurdish militants. “If these countries are not implementing the points included in the
memorandum that we signed, we will not ratify the accession protocol,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed in a televised interview.

He said the committee would meet in August but provided no details.Turkey’s parliament has broken for its summer recess and will not be able
to hold a ratification vote before October. Some Turkish officials have warned that the process may drag out until next year.