Turkey’s justice minister Thursday said Sweden’s pledge to extradite a Turkish convict fell far short of Stockholm’s commitments under a deal paving the way for its NATO membership bid, Agence France-Presse reported.
NATO member Turkey is threatening to freeze Sweden’s attempts to join the Western defense alliance unless it extradites dozens of people Ankara accuses of “terrorism.”
A non-binding deal Sweden and fellow NATO aspirant Finland signed with Turkey in June commits them to “expeditiously and thoroughly” examine Ankara’s requests for suspects linked to a 2016 coup attempt and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
The Swedish government said earlier this month that it would extradite Okan Kale — a man convicted of credit card fraud who appeared on a list of people sought by Ankara published by Turkish media.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ told the pro-government Milliyet news website that Sweden needed to do far more to win Turkey’s trust.
“If they think that by extraditing ordinary criminals to Turkey, they will make us believe that they have fulfilled their promises, they are wrong,” Bozdağ said in the first government response to the extradition decision.
“Nobody should test Turkey,” he warned.
Bozdağ is seen as one of the more hawkish members of Erdoğan’s government.
Erdoğan has warned that he will not submit the two countries’ applications for ratification in parliament unless they comply with his extradition demands in full.
Erdoğan said in July that Sweden had made a “promise” to extradite “73 terrorists.”
The Turkish justice ministry in June formally requested the extradition of 21 suspects from Sweden and 12 from Finland.
Sweden and Finland ended decades of military neutrality and decided to try and join NATO in response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
Their bids have already been ratified by the United States and more than half of the 30 members of NATO. Each application must win unanimous consent from member states.
Sweden and Finland are due to hold their first formal consultations with Turkey about the dispute on August 26.
Swedish media report that the meeting will be held in Stockholm but no formal announcement has been made.