Sweden continues to deal with Kurdish organisations Turkey views as terrorists, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after meeting Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Ankara on Tuesday, despite the Swedish government announcing it will distance itself from the YPG and PYD.
During a press conference, new Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that the change of government did not affect Sweden’s NATO process, and he is ready to proceed with his country’s application.
Erdogan welcomed the new Swedish government but reiterated that Sweden continues to deal with Kurdish organisations that Turkey considers terrorists.
“We want to see Sweden support Turkey’s security interests”, he said, adding that he wanted to “see more positive signals at the next meeting”, which will take place in Stockholm in a month.
Kristersson explained that Turkey and Sweden had had long-standing relations.
“We can work closer together. We can do more to make our countries and regions safer together,” Kristersson said during a joint press conference, adding that “Sweden understands that Turkey has fought a bloody battle against PKK terrorists”.
Over the weekend, the Swedish government announced that it was distancing itself from the Kurdish organisations YPG and PYD. The YPG and PYD have previously been supported by Sweden and have long been NATO, and US allies in the fight against the terrorist organisation IS in Syria.
On Saturday (5 November), in an interview with Swedish Radio, Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said the organisations had too close ties to the terrorist-classified PKK. He was later backed by Kristersson.
“There is too close a link between these organisations and the PKK, a terrorist organisation listed by the EU, for it to be good for relations between us and Turkey. We should not have political cooperation with organisations that are so close to the PKK”, Kristersson told TV4 on Saturday (5 November).
Social Democratic leader Magdalena Andersson was prime minister when Sweden signed the agreement with Turkey. According to her, the Swedish government is inappropriately going beyond what the agreement requires, DN reported.
“What Billström said in Saturday’s interview is nothing that follows from that agreement. Nowhere in it does it say that it should distance itself from those organisations. It is something else that this government is doing, ” Andersson said.
When asked about possible extraditions, Erdogan said, “the aim has been to review Sweden’s attitude to terrorism. Four people have been extradited so far, but at the moment one person remains in Sweden.”
This type of demand from Turkey is nothing new but is usually used against poorer or less powerful countries. Ankara has pumped billions into the Western Balkan countries while publicly and openly demanding the extradition of those it considers terrorists, usually political opponents.
The result is a number of illegal deportations, described as “extraterritorial abductions” by the UN, with the most recent being from Albania in September.
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)