Feeling the heat over Sweden’s support for a terrorist group based near Turkey’s borders, the country’s opposition has proposed cutting ties with a deputy who supports the terrorist group PKK and its Syrian branch YPG.
The country’s NATO membership bid faces an uncertain future due to Sweden’s attitude, as Ankara says Stockholm must take a clear stand against all terrorist groups before it could gain membership.
Turkey, a NATO member for 70 years, has a veto over any new members, as any expansion of the alliance must be agreed unanimously.
On a public affairs program, Ebba Busch, the leader of the Swedish Christian Democrats Party, urged Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to cut ties with independent Deputy Amineh Kakabaveh, who is a supporter of the YPG, a terrorist group based around Turkish borders.
Kakabaveh took the country’s security and NATO membership bid hostage, Busch argued.
Andersson said she would seriously consider the proposal.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last month – a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.
But Turkey, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people.
Speaking to a Swedish public broadcaster on June 2, Kakabaveh said the government should not agree to Turkey’s demands to stop supporting terrorists to get NATO membership
Frustrated that the government did not do as she demanded, Kakabaveh told Dagens Nyheter daily that she was preparing to vote against Morgan Johansson, the justice and interior minister, in a no-confidence vote set for Tuesday that could end the government.
Andersson has said she would step down if Johansson does not survive the vote.
Michael Sahlin, the former Swedish ambassador to Turkey, said that Sweden’s international security should not depend on Kakabaveh, stressing that the country should consider its own interests.
Kakabaveh’s threat was roundly criticized on social media.
On June 2, right-wing parties in parliament submitted a no-confidence motion on Johansson over his handling of gang crime.
Last November, Andersson was proposed by departing Premier Stefan Lofven to fill her post.
Andersson needed 175 out of 349 parliamentary deputies to form a government and was elected premier on Nov. 24 by one vote, including Kakabaveh’s.
In return for this vote, an agreement was signed between the ruling Social Democratic Party and Kakabaveh to support the YPG.
Some analysts see Kakabaveh’s vote as decisive in Tuesday’s no-confidence motion.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday reiterated his country’s stance on the bids by Finland and Sweden to join NATO, saying: “The whole world should know this. NATO countries should know first that NATO is not an organization that will provide terrorist security.”
As Sweden and Finland are seeking NATO membership, Turkey’s security concerns are based on “just and legitimate” grounds, the Turkish leader also told the NATO chief on Friday.
In a phone call, Erdoğan and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the NATO bids of the two Nordic countries and Ankara’s security concerns about their entry into the military alliance.
Erdoğan told Stoltenberg that Sweden and Finland should prove that they do not support terrorism and are ready to show solidarity of alliance, and sanctions against Turkey are lifted.
Stoltenberg, for his part, reiterated that expectations of Turkey, which he called an important NATO ally, to ensure its security must be met.
The issue of terrorism is non-negotiable for Turkey, the country’s communications director also stressed on Sunday as Sweden’s bid to join NATO continues.
“Sweden needs to make a concrete and permanent policy change on terrorism,” Communications Director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Sunday in an article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
“Extraditing terrorists to Turkey and preventing terrorist organizations from operating on Swedish soil are our sine qua non,” he added.
Altun stressed that if Ankara’s concerns are not addressed, there would be no way to “convince” the country to accept the two Nordic nations’ NATO accession.
“Now, there is a Turkey that protects its interests at all costs and demands eye-level relations with every interlocutor on every platform. Everyone should get used to this fact,” he asserted.
According to Altun, protecting terrorist organizations under the guise of “freedom of expression” and “political asylum” casts a shadow over Sweden’s sincerity.
“Under current circumstances, it is not possible for us to explain to the Turkish people how and why we will be in a military alliance with a country that provides a safe haven to the PKK, which was involved in the assassination of Olof Palme (former Prime Minister of Sweden) and carried out suicide attacks in Turkey, or FETÖ (Gülenist Terror Group), which attempted a coup and killed 251 innocent people,” he wrote.
In late May, Turkey hosted consultations with Swedish and Finnish delegations in Ankara on their NATO applications. Erdoğan said the meetings had not been “at the desired level.”
While the two Nordic countries have said talks would continue to resolve the dispute, Erdoğan said that Ankara had not received any responses to its demands, including stopping support for groups Turkey considers terrorists, lifting arms embargoes on Ankara and extraditing suspects it seeks.