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Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

NATO: Turkey refuses to lift veto on Sweden's membership application

NATO: Turkey refuses to lift veto on Sweden's membership application

Turkey is yet to lift its veto on Sweden's bid for NATO membership.
Sweden's Supreme Court provoked Turkish anger by blocking the extradition on Monday of a journalist that Ankara implicates in a failed 2016 coup attempt.

The journalist, Bulent Kenes, who received asylum in Sweden, was the editor of the English-language Today’s Zaman newspaper, which was owned by the Gulen network and the government closed down as part of its crackdown on the group.

"If we are to be NATO allies, we need to see concrete cooperation in the fight against terrorism. But our talks continue in a constructive way. The recent rejection of the extradition decision of (Bulent) Kenes has unfortunately seriously poisoned this atmosphere," said Mevlut Cavusoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey during a press conference on Thursday. 

But his Swedish counterpart said that constitutional changes will make it easier to prosecute "terrorist" activities starting in January.

"I would like to underline that, as I stated, we take our commitments seriously. Sweden has an independent judiciary and all cases are reviewed through that independent judiciary," said Tobias Billstrom, Swedish Foreign Minister. 

Sweden and Finland broke with decades of military non-alignment and applied to join the US-led defence alliance in response to Russia's February invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members yet to ratify the Nordic neighbours' applications.

Turkey has held up the process while pressing the two Nordic countries to crack down on groups it considers to be terrorist organizations such as Kurdish militants.
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