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SWEDEN AND TURKEY

Swedish delegation to travel to Turkey next week for Nato talks

An official Swedish delegation will travel to Turkey at the start of next month for talks about Sweden’s Nato application.

Swedish delegation to travel to Turkey next week for Nato talks
State Secretary Oscar Stenström, who leading talks on Sweden's NATO accession at the alliance's summit in Madrid in June. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Turkish news outlets have reported that a delegation from Sweden’s Ministry of Justice will be in Turkey October 5th-6th, and that the scheduled talks will deal with “the extradition of criminal terrorists” from Sweden to Turkey. The Ministry of Justice confirmed to TT that this meeting would take place, and that it would involve senior officials rather than ministers.

Turkey has demanded that people it describes as “terrorist suspects” be extradited from Sweden and Finland. The Swedish government maintains that Swedish citizens cannot be extradited. Further, the Swedish government has pointed out that Swedish law, which applies in Sweden, is applied by an independent court system.

While non-Swedish citizens can be extradited, this can only happen when the extradition is in line with Swedish law and the European Convention on Extradition.

Sweden’s outgoing foreign minister Ann Linde said on Tuesday that the Nato talks with Turkey were “moving along nicely”. 

“My judgement is that Turkey will say ‘yes’ to Swedish Nato membership, however, I do not know when that will be,” she said.

An agreement was signed in Madrid this June by Turkey, Sweden, and Finland, which has also submitted an application for Nato membership. Under that agreement, Turkey lifted its objections to the two countries’ Nato applications. Among the topics covered in that agreement were terrorism, arms exports, and extraditions.

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson has said he will keep Oscar Stenström, the diplomat appointed by the Social Democrats to lead Sweden’s Nato process, in place when he takes over as Sweden’s new Prime Minister later this month. 

Only two of Nato’s 30 members have still to ratify Sweden and Finland’s accession: Turkey and Hungary.

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NATO

Sweden changes constitution to beef up anti-terror law

Sweden's parliament on Wednesday passed a constitutional amendment that will make it possible to pass tougher anti-terror laws, a key demand from Turkey to approve Stockholm's Nato membership bid.

Sweden changes constitution to beef up anti-terror law

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-held policy of non-alignment and applied to join the military alliance. But Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland’s Nato membership applications, accusing Stockholm in particular of being a haven for “terrorists”.

The amendment, which passed with 278 votes in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament, makes it possible to introduce new laws to “limit freedom of association when it comes to associations that engage in or support terrorism.”

According to parliament’s standing committee on constitutional affairs, which recommended MPs approve the proposal, it will enable “wider criminalisation of participation in a terrorist organisation or a ban against terrorist organisation”.

Experts have said new legislation would make it easier to prosecute members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara and most of its Western allies. The change will enter into force on January 1.

During a visit to Ankara last week, Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described the constitutional amendment as a “big step”.

“Sweden will take big steps by the end of the year and early next year that will give Swedish legal authorities more muscles to fight terrorism”, he said at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Sweden, a constitutional amendment must be approved by two separate parliaments, with a general election held in between.

The first vote passed under Sweden’s previous left-wing government in April, before Sweden’s formal decision to apply for Nato membership in mid May.

Only the country’s Left Party expressed opposition to the change.

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