Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted on returning PKK militants for his country’s ratification of Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
Sweden’s refusal to extradite dozens of people having ties with Kurdish militant groups and other critics of his government has been a major stumbling bloc ahead of Sweden.
“If you absolutely want to join Nato, you will return these terrorists to us,” Erdogan said in a video addressing the youth in the central-western Bilecek province.
At the same time, he hinted that Turkey may agree to Finland joining the western military alliance.
“We may deliver Finland a different message (on their NATO application) and Sweden would be shocked when they see our message. But Finland should not make the same mistake Sweden did,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan’s comments came a week after Turkey suspended NATO accession talks with Sweden and Finland in response to a far-right political leader burning a copy of the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims, during a protest in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm.
Both Sweden and Finland’s refusal to extradite Kurdish militants, who Turkey describes as terrorists, is a serious issue in the two Nordic nations’ NATO membership progress.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group, has been fighting Turkish forces for more than four decades.
The North Atlantic Council’s approval of the applications for NATO membership requires ratification by the parliaments of all the countries of the 30-member bloc.
Hungary and Turkey remains the only NATO member that has not yet ratified the instrument of ratification of Sweden and Finland’s Accession Protocols.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had earlier said that the country’s Parliament would ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bid in its first session in 2023.
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