ANKARA -Turkey will renew requests for Sweden and Finland to extradite individuals it considers terrorists after the countries reached a deal over the Nordic nations’ NATO membership bids, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Wednesday.
Turkey had opposed their bids over what it called support for Kurdish militants and others it views as terrorists, as well as over arms embargoes and unfulfilled extradition requests.
On Tuesday, the three nations signed a deal for Ankara to remove its block, while the candidates pledged not to support the Kurdish militant PKK and YPG groups or the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara says staged a 2016 coup attempt and which it labels a terrorist organisation with the acronym FETO.
“The dossiers of six PKK members, six FETO members await in Finland, while those of 10 FETO members and 11 PKK members await in Sweden. We will write about their extradition again after the agreement and remind them,” Bozdag was cited as saying by state-owned Anadolu news agency.
In the memorandum text the three countries signed on Tuesday, Finland and Sweden agreed to “address (Turkey’s) pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly…in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition”.
“We have not been presented any claims for now, as far as I know,” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told reporters on Wednesday in Madrid.
On Tuesday, he said the signed memorandum did not list any individuals for extradition and that Finland would continue to respect the European rules in its extradition decisions.
“We don’t in fact have any unsettled extradition requests at the moment. We have processed 14 out of 16 (requests by Turkey) and two decisions have been blocked by the fact that the targets have not been located,” Niinisto told reporters.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Sweden would continue to follow local and international law in its extraditions and that the process would depend on what information was received from Turkey.
“There are those in Sweden who feel some anxiety, and with that I want to make clear three things,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid.
“First of all, we never extradite anyone who is a Swedish citizen, and I know some of those who have expressed concerns are Swedish citizens, so they don’t need to worry.
“Secondly, we will of course as before follow Swedish and international law … Thirdly, this means that if one is not conducting terrorism activity, one doesn’t need to be worried.”
Turkey, a NATO member of more than 70 years standing with the alliance’s second biggest army, has long demanded that allies halt support for the YPG, a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. It has repeatedly traded barbs with the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands and others over the matter.