The Nordic nation must crack down on “terrorist organizations” still roaming Stockholm’s streets, the Turkish president has said
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, and Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler attend a meeting, on July 10, 2023. © YVES HERMAN / POOL / AFP
Sweden has not gone far enough to secure its place in NATO and guarantee the ratification of its bid by Türkiye, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said ahead of a parliamentary vote on the matter.
Speaking to PBS News on Monday, Erdogan confirmed that Sweden’s membership in NATO would eventually be on the agenda of the Turkish Grand National Assembly after it reconvenes in October. However, when pressed on whether the vote would take place soon, the Turkish president remarked that “for that to be happening, of course, Sweden should keep its promises.”
Erdogan stressed, in reference to Kurdish groups that Ankara considers terrorists, that those organizations “should immediately stop their demonstrations on the streets of Stockholm, and they should stop their activities because seeing this actually happening is going to be very important for the Turkish people.”
The Turkish leader also acknowledged that Sweden had seemingly amended its legislation to address the issue but added that “it’s not enough.”
Sweden and its Nordic neighbor, Finland, applied to join NATO in May 2022, following the start of the Ukraine conflict. However, while Helsinki became a member of the US-led military bloc in April, Stockholm’s bid remains in limbo due to Hungary and Türkiye’s reluctance to ratify its application.
While Budapest has repeatedly blasted Sweden for its criticism of the state of democracy in the Central European country, Ankara has demanded that Stockholm do more to crack down on Kurdish groups. Another point of contention for Türkiye stemmed from repeated Quran burnings in the Nordic nation.
In July, after months of back and forth, Erdogan agreed to move Sweden’s membership bid to the Turkish parliament after a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
In a statement after the summit, the three leaders underlined that Stockholm had changed its anti-terrorism laws, expanded counter-terrorism cooperation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and restarted arms exports to Türkiye. In addition, the two countries agreed to create a “new bilateral Security Compact.” At the same time, Sweden pledged to present a “roadmap as the basis of its continued fight against terrorism in all its forms.”