Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has said his recent comments about Sweden’s inability to meet Turkey’s demands regarding NATO membership are all a “misunderstanding,” Politico reported.
Kristersson said on Sunday that Turkey, which has for months blocked NATO membership bids by Sweden and Finland, has made some demands that Sweden cannot accept.
“Turkey has confirmed that we have done what we said we would do, but it also says that it wants things that we can’t, that we don’t want to, give it,” Kristersson said during a security conference also attended by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
However, speaking to reporters in Stockholm on Wednesday, the Swedish prime minister insisted that discussions with Turkey on his country’s NATO membership are “going very well.”
Sweden and Finland broke with decades of military non-alignment and applied to join the US-led defense alliance in response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
But Turkey has refused to approve their bid until the two countries take steps, including joining Turkey’s fight against banned Kurdish militants and extradite dissidents labelled as “terrorists” by Turkey.
Kristersson said Sweden had moved to strengthen legislation on counterterrorism — a key demand of Turkey, which wants some individuals extradited from Sweden.
“We are doing exactly what we promised to do, that is not least in the field of fighting terrorism,” Kristersson said, yet adding that there are limits to what Sweden can do when it comes to extraditing individuals to Turkey.
“Turkey sometimes names people that they would like to have extradited from Sweden, and it’s well known that Swedish legislation on that … is very clear: that courts [make] those decisions, there is no room for changing that,” he said. “I don’t think that should shadow the fact that things are going well.”
A Swedish court last month blocked the extradition of Bülent Keneş, an exiled Turkish journalist who was identified by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a “terrorist” Sweden had to extradite in exchange for Ankara’s NATO green light.