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NATO

Swedish foreign minister visits Nato HQ for accession talks

The foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland were holding talks with NATO on Monday on formally starting the process to join the military alliance -- a historic step spurred by Russia's war in Ukraine.

Flags flutter in the wind outside Nato headquarters in Brussels. Photo: AP/Olivier Matthys
Flags flutter in the wind outside Nato headquarters in Brussels. Photo: AP/Olivier Matthys

The negotiations, led by Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde and Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto, were made possible after existing Nato member Turkey last week dropped objections.

Ambassadors from Nato’s 30 member states were on Tuesday expected to sign the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland, opening a months-long period for alliance countries to ratify their membership.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Sweden and Finland in parallel announced their intention to drop their military non-alignment status and become part of Nato.

A Nato summit in Madrid last week endorsed that move by issuing invitations to the two, after Turkey won concessions over concerns it had raised — and a US promise it would receive new warplanes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had accused Sweden and Finland of being havens for Kurdish militants he has sought to crush, and for promoting “terrorism”.

He also demanded they lift arms embargoes imposed for Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into Syria. But Erdogan kept the rest of Nato on tenterhooks by saying he could still block Sweden and Finland’s bids if they failed to follow through on their
promises, some of which were undisclosed, such as possible extradition agreements.

Sweden’s Linde tweeted that she was going to Brussels on Monday for the talks at Nato headquarters and would attend the ambassadors’ signing on Tuesday.

A Finnish diplomat confirmed that Haavisto was also in the Belgian capital for the talks and Tuesday’s signing.

The two foreign ministers were to give a media conference with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday.

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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.

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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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