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Sweden pledges to meet Türkiye’s demands for NATO membership

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hand with visiting Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Ankara, Türkiye, on Nov 8, 2022. (MUSTAFA KAYA / XINHUA)

ANKARA – Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday promised to meet Turkish security demands in an effort to get Türkiye's approval of his country's bid to join the NATO.

"We will fully implement the trilateral memorandum," Kristersson said at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara.

Finland and Sweden's NATO bid was initially blocked by Ankara, which accused them of supporting anti-Türkiye groups as they rejected Ankara's extradition requests for the suspects affiliated with the PKK and the Gulen movement

"Sweden will take important steps with regards to the fight against terror," he added.

Sweden plans to introduce new legislation by 2023 to fight terror groups, whether they pose risk to Sweden or Türkiye, the Swedish leader noted.

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Kristersson said his country has designated the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization and his government was willing to support Türkiye in its fight against the group.

"Joining this alliance is a vital security issue for us. Being a NATO member means taking (security) responsibility for other allies," he added.

Kristersson held talks with Erdogan on Tuesday in a bid to convince the Turkish leader to approve Sweden's bid to join the NATO.

"Sweden wants NATO membership for its own security, and we want to see a Sweden that supports our own security concerns," Erdogan said.

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Finland and Sweden's NATO bid was initially blocked by Ankara, which accused them of supporting anti-Türkiye groups as they rejected Ankara's extradition requests for the suspects affiliated with the PKK and the Gulen movement.

On June 28, Türkiye, Sweden and Finland reached a trilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) ahead of the NATO Madrid summit.

Sweden and Finland pledged to support Türkiye's fight against terrorism and agreed to address Ankara's pending deportation or extradition requests for terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly.

Türkiye remains one of the two NATO members yet to ratify their accession, as Ankara has been complaining that the two countries have moved too slowly in fulfilling their commitments over the Turkish security concerns.

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The PKK, listed as a terror organization by Türkiye, the United States and the EU, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.

The Gulen movement, led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, has been accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the 2016 failed coup to topple Erdogan's rule.