Finland’s foreign affairs minister said his country had not received any new requests for deportations of Kurdish rebels, saying all cases had already been solved, after signing a deal with Turkey in order to join NATO.
The country agreed along with Sweden to process Turkey’s “pending deportation of extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly,” a vaguely worded pledge that has raised fears the Nordic countries gave in too much to Ankara's wishes.
But Finnish all potential deportations would be subject to strict EU law standards, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto told Euronews.
“We are not changing our legislation in Finland. Sweden is not changing its legislation. We agreed on some cooperation between our authorities, but we are following our own laws regarding human rights,” he said.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said however that Ankara is seeking several suspects from Finland, while Haavisto told Euronews that the Finnish government had not “seen any new lists [and] we don't have any open requests.”
In a press conference, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called it a "diplomatic win" for his country, saying that "terrorists" would be extradited.
However, he added that Turkey will monitor the enforcement of the memorandum, stating that "the key thing is for promises to come true".
Erdoğan had vetoed Finland and Sweden's accession over limitations on arms exports and Turkey's desired extraditions of members of Kurdish militant groups and those allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement -- people he views as terrorists and threats to the country's national security.
“Turkey is particularly concerned about the PKK as an organisation and both Finland and Sweden already have PKK under counterterrorist listings,” Haavisto said.
“I do not think that this kind of enhanced cooperation between the authorities is a bad thing. We will become members of the same military alliance. We can live with the whole text," he said.
Low expectations upon arrival
Haavisto said his expectations were low when he arrived in Madrid earlier this week for a NATO summit.
He’d flown to the Spanish capital together with his Swedish counterparts in a bid to convince Turkey to drop its veto on the accession of the two countries into the military alliance.
"Our own expectations were quite low. We had seen how difficult it is to formulate the text and find the final expression," Haavisto said.
"We used four hours with Turkish President Erdoğan, with the Swedish delegation, NATO's secretary-general. Many kinds of formulations were at the table.”
“And then there was this kind of decisive coffee break that sometimes happens after two hours. And that was the breakthrough.”
“We were ourselves surprised,” Haavisto added.
For Haavisto, the deal signed in Madrid heralds a new era for his country, which had a long tradition of military non-alignment that was turned upside down by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Does Finland fear a similar incursion from his huge neighbour?
“Our citizens feel quite safe,” Haavisto said. “We have a 1,300-kilometre common border with Russia. And of course, our aim is to keep that border peaceful as it has been.”