Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has said Finland has not received an updated list of people whose extradition is sought by Turkey in return for the approval of its NATO membership, according to Swedish media.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demanded the extradition of some 130 people from Sweden and Finland to Turkey whom he called “terrorists” in a speech on Sunday. The figure was much higher than what was reported as 33 or 42 before.
Sweden and Finland broke with decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members that still must ratify the Nordic countries’ applications.
Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden, in particular, of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish groups it deems “terrorists” as well as some political dissidents and has refrained from ratifying their NATO bids despite an agreement in Madrid in June.
The country has set the extradition of people it deems to be terrorists from Sweden and Finland as a precondition for the approval of the two countries’ NATO membership.
Haavisto said in a radio interview on Monday according to public broadcaster Yle that Finland has not received a new list from Turkey concerning its extradition requests. He said Erdoğan’s remarks might be a reaction to a controversial protest in Stockholm organized by a Kurdish group last week.
Tensions between Turkey and Sweden were heightened last week after protesters in Stockholm hung an effigy of Erdoğan, leading the Turkish Foreign Ministry to summon Sweden’s ambassador in Ankara. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson later said the effigy was an “act of sabotage” aimed at hampering Sweden’s efforts to join NATO.
Meanwhile, another Finnish official, Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finnish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Monday that the number mentioned by Erdoğan is not based on anything concrete, the Helsinki Times reported.
“It’s more or less a number that was pulled out of a hat, that was used to raise the stakes in response to the provocation that took place in Sweden,” he said, referring to the demonstration in Stockholm.
According to a “senior Turkish official” quoted by the Guardian last Saturday, Turkey is unlikely to sign off on the two Nordic countries’ accession before the next Turkish general elections, which are scheduled for June but may take place in April or May.