The Dallas Morning News

Sweden set on NATO entry

After Turkey broke up joint bid with Finland, Stockholm undeterred


STOCKHOLM — Sweden will continue efforts to persuade Turkey to lift its block on the entry of the largest Nordic country into defense alliance NATO after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the door to Finland’s accession.

Erdogan’s decision on Friday to instruct the parliament to ratify the Finnish applicatio­n dashed the Nordic countries’ hopes of a parallel entry process. Hungary’s announceme­nt that it also plans to treat the bids separately cast further doubt on the timeline for Sweden’s entry.

Speaking to reporters in Stockholm, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said his government has done its part on fulfilling an agreement with Turkey the two Nordic countries signed in June last year, adding that it will continue to honor the deal.

“Sweden has done what it promised to do when signing the trilateral memorandum,” Billstrom said. “We have no intent to do neither more nor less than what we have pledged to do.”

The June agreement, which paved the way for Sweden and Finland’s invitation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organizati­on, included pledges from the Nordic countries to avoid arms embargoes on Turkey and do more to combat terrorism. However, relations between Ankara and Stockholm soured since then, with Turkey accusing Sweden of not doing enough to crack down on groups it labels as terrorist.

Talks came to a standstill earlier this year after an effigy of Erdogan was hoisted upside down from a lamppost in Stockholm, and a Danish Swedish far-right activist burned a Quran outside of the Turkish embassy.

While Sweden has since moved toward introducin­g a tighter anti-terror legislatio­n and prevented at least two occasions of attempted Quran burnings, Erdogan continued to link Sweden’s ratificati­on to “concrete steps taken” by the country.

At a news conference in Ankara earlier Friday, the Turkish president also repeated his demand for Sweden to extradite people that Turkey calls terrorists.

“Sweden has opened its arms to terrorists,” Erdogan said. “We have given them a list of approximat­ely 120 terrorists and we asked them to send them to Turkey.”

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