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Turkey hails Swedish extradition of Kurdish man but wants more action

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Turkey on Monday welcomed Sweden’s extradition of a convicted Kurdish man but signaled it expected more action before it would approve Stockholm’s application to join NATO, Agence France-Presse reported.

Ankara has demanded that both Sweden and neighboring Finland take tougher stances on Kurdish groups it deems “terrorists” in exchange for backing their NATO bids.

“The return of the PKK terrorist is a start showing [Sweden’s] sincerity,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ told state television station TRT.

“We hope more will follow,” he said.

Sweden on Friday extradited Mahmut Tat, who is wanted by Ankara for membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.

Tat, who was sentenced to more than six years in prison by a Turkish court, fled to Sweden in 2015 but was denied asylum by the Swedish authorities.

Tat was detained by Turkish police shortly after landing at İstanbul airport and jailed by an İstanbul court.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden in May dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO.

The bid needs unanimous approval from all NATO members.

Turkey has refrained from ratifying their NATO applications despite reaching an agreement with Sweden and Finland in June.

Among its demands of the Nordic nations, Ankara says it expects Stockholm in particular to take tougher action on issues including the extradition of criminals and the freezing of terrorist assets.

Hungary, the only other NATO member who has yet to ratify the applications, has promised to put the issue to a vote in parliament next year.

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