Whom the Turkish President Wants to Extradite
A NATO summit will be held in Madrid from 28 to 30 June, focusing mainly on events in and around Ukraine. But there are big doubts that this meeting will lead to an early admission to the alliance of Finland and Sweden, who said goodbye to their neutral status on the Ukrainian wave. The demands put forward by Turkey to these countries look so far unfeasible. We found out the names of Kurdish politicians and activists who have taken refuge in Sweden and are causing Erdogan's wrath.
Ahead of the Madrid summit, Karen Donfried, the State Department's European spokesperson, said: The United States hopes a positive resolution will soon be reached between Turkey, Finland, and Sweden regarding the two Nordic countries' NATO membership bids.
Bids Stockholm and Helsinki to join the alliance have faced opposition from Turkey, which has been outraged by what it calls support for Kurdish militants, and an arms embargo on Ankara. The admission of new members to NATO requires the approval of all 30 members of the bloc. And, if Turkey does not turn on the green light, the Swedes and Finns will not succeed.
Given its position, representatives of the alliance openly make it clear that the summit scheduled for June 29-30 is not a deadline. Any progress in Sweden's and Finland's membership bids “now depends on the direction and speed with which these countries take steps,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın also said.
Some analysts believe things could move forward from the spot if Joe Biden personally intervenes. Although his bilateral meeting in Madrid with his Turkish counterpart has not yet been announced, conversations on the sidelines with the aim of persuading Erdogan to soften his position are not ruled out.
However, relations between the United States and Turkey remain strained on a range of issues, from Syria policy to Ankara's purchase of Russian air defense systems, so American intervention could do more damage.
According to Sabah, Turkey must be convinced that no Swedish weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists. Fahrettin Altun, director of public relations for the Turkish president, said this on Wednesday. “The confirmation of Sweden's accession to NATO means that we are committed to protecting the Swedish people in the event of an Article 5 attack,” he said. – If we are ready to take on such responsibility for Sweden, we must be firmly convinced that terrorist acts are not committed against Turkish citizens with money raised in Sweden, and that Swedish weapons will not come out of terrorist hideouts in Syria or Iraq '.
A spokesman for Erdoğan's office reiterated Turkey's concerns, saying that “the concern is whether Sweden's membership in NATO jeopardizes counter-terrorism efforts”: “We must ensure that Sweden upholds the values of the alliance and the security of its potential allies.” ”.
Last week, Ankara said that the documents it received from Sweden and NATO in response to its earlier written demands for the two candidates are far from its expectations, and any negotiations must first resolve the problems of Turkey, notes Sabah.
According to the Turkish publication Cumhuriyet, Turkey expects the “correct implementation” of the principles and procedures of the 1999 NATO summit regarding the process of membership in the alliance. NATO members' security concerns should be dealt with in a “fair manner”. In this regard, the press secretary of President Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, stressed that Ankara has applied to Sweden and Finland for the past 10 years with requests for the extradition of terrorist suspects.
When Turkish President Erdogan said that Stockholm was harboring “terrorists”, they saw in his words an allusion to the influential member of the Swedish parliament Amine Kakabawe, a native of Iran, a former fighter of the Kurdish Peshmerga militia and a refugee who moved to the Scandinavian kingdom in the early 90s. It was her vote that proved decisive when a vote of confidence in the government of Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson was held a few weeks ago.
In return, the deputy received promises from the ruling party to expand cooperation with the political party of the Syrian Kurds, whose armed wing Erdogan demands to be recognized as a terrorist organization in Sweden.
The other day, Amine Kakabave again demonstrated her importance in Swedish politics, saying that she would support the budget for 2022 if the government enforces restrictions on arms sales to Turkey. “Everyone bows before Erdogan only because of problems with Putin,” she said in parliament.
And Erdogan is demanding written commitments from Sweden to severely sever ties with supporters of the PKK and its affiliated groups such as the YPG (the armed wing of the PYD political group, which is supported by the Swedish Social Democrats). Ankara also wants Stockholm to lift restrictions on arms sales to Turkey and extradite people accused by Turkish authorities of terrorism. The Turkish leadership put forward similar conditions to Finland, but the real goal is still Sweden.
From Erdogan's perspective, Western support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militias empowers the wider separatist network, including the PKK, against Turkey. It got to the point where the Turkish authorities wanted Andersson to fire Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist from her government for attending a meeting in 2014 marking the 33rd anniversary of the founding of the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
In May, Erdogan called Sweden and Finland “habitats for terrorist organizations,” a move vehemently denied by the authorities in both countries. Paradoxically, it was Sweden, home to one of the largest Kurdish communities in Europe, that became the first Western country to designate the PKK as a terrorist organization. However, Swedish free speech laws mean that showing sympathy for the group is not punishable.
In an attempt to break Erdogan's resistance to admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson stresses that anti-terrorist rules are already under development as a move that could ease some of Ankara's fears about Kurdish fighters, and suggests that Sweden, if it joins NATO is more likely to remove restrictions on arms exports to Turkey.
But there is an obstacle that official Stockholm will not be able to cross just like that. Turkish dailies report that Erdogan has given the Swedish government the names of the people he wants to be deported to Turkey, but the list has not been made public.
Nevertheless, according to CNN, there is reason to believe that five Swedish parliamentarians of Kurdish origin were included in the Turkish list for extradition, one of which is called Amine Kakabave.
“If people see that I, a member of parliament with no roots in Turkey, can be threatened, this is a problem for freedom of speech in European countries, for migrants, for asylum seekers,” she told CNN. “This is a threat to democracy. By not defending our rights, we contribute to other problems. Today it's Turkey's demands, tomorrow it could be another country's demands.”
The MP insists that the Swedish government's restrained response to Erdogan's continued demands is itself a form of capitulation. According to Kakabawa, she has never felt more vulnerable or betrayed.
The list also allegedly includes the name of 74-year-old writer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ragip Zarakolu, who spent time in Turkish prisons before emigrating to Sweden. “Calling me a terrorist is ridiculous. Here is my weapon,” Zarakolu says, showing a pen. Does she shoot bullets? Of course, Sweden is not going to extradite me. But this is harassment.”
In any case, according to Bloomberg, extradition will not be easy. Sweden and Turkey have signed the European Convention on Extradition, and if Erdogan had solid evidence of terrorist crimes, the Swedish authorities might have complied. But there are rules against extradition for political offenses, and no one can be expelled if they are prosecuted for their political opinions. Any decision can be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
And here the zealots of the zealots of Swedish democracy and Swedish identity leap up. Columnist and writer Lena Andersson, who is pushing for an end to the NATO membership bid, argues: “What we have to choose is self-respect. It is an act of freedom.”
“Swedish foreign policy is driven by values, and many Swedes see themselves as a country that stands for democracy and human rights,” Paul Levine, director of the Institute for Turkic Studies at Stockholm University, told Al-Monitor. “The hard choice between principles and security that Ankara has placed before Sweden may come as a shock to many here. Few people want to abandon the traditional role of Sweden on the world stage.”
It is clear that the Kurds living in Sweden are watching with particular concern the bargaining between Stockholm and Ankara regarding the admission of the kingdom to the North Atlantic Alliance. According to CNN, the Kurdish population there, according to experts, now makes up almost 1% of the country's population (about 100-150 thousand people).
“Erdogan says that no matter where you are from, if you Kurd and you want freedom, you are a terrorist. This is not true,” said Gothenburg-based Karim Haji Rasouli, an Iranian native of Iran.
“NATO membership will lead us to new conflicts and possibly new wars,” said Fawzi Baban, an Iraqi-born participant in an anti-NATO demonstration. – As a Kurd, I am more affected by this. Look what some NATO members have done in my country. They completely destroyed it.”
“Will NATO hold on to authoritarian regimes like Turkey at the expense of democracies like Finland and Sweden? asks Kurdo Baksi, one of the leaders of the Kurdish community and a frequent commentator on Swedish television. “Erdogan paralyzes NATO and European security.”