Ankara is asking Sweden and Finland to extradite the Kurdish rebels before lifting their vetoes on their bids.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara had conveyed a request to Sweden to work against “terrorist” threats before removing its application to join NATO.
“We understand their security concerns and we want Sweden to respond to our words,” Erdogan said after meeting with the Swedish prime minister at the presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday.
The Turkish leader, who has accused the Scandinavian nation and neighboring Finland of harboring outlawed Kurdish rebel groups in Turkey, added that he “sincerely wishes” Sweden Join the US-led military alliance.
Another meeting on the bid for NATO membership was scheduled for later this month, he said, without specifying a date.
Sweden and Finland have abandoned their longstanding policies of no military designation and Register to become a NATO member this year after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, out of concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be targeted next.
But Turkey, which joined NATO in 1952, has yet to endorse its accession, which requires the unanimous approval of existing alliance members.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he understood Turkey’s fight against “terrorism” and promised to meet its demands.
Erdogan asked for Oslo and Helsinki Extradition of members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting the Turkish state for decades and is considered a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies.
In particular, Turkey accuses Sweden of leniency towards the PKK and its affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). In June, they said they had provided Oslo and Helsinki with a list of people they wanted to extradite.
The PKK is blacklisted by Ankara and most of its Western allies. However, the YPG has been a key player in the US-led military coalition against the group ISIL (ISIS) in Syria.
Kristersson described Tuesday’s meeting with Erdogan as “very productive”.
“Sweden will comply with all its obligations to Turkey in combating the terrorist threat,” he said.
“My government was just elected a few weeks ago with a mandate to put law and order first. And this includes fighting terrorism and terrorist organizations like the PKK in Sweden,” he added.
While Sweden has in the past voiced support for the YPG and its political wing, Kristersson’s government appears to be moving away from itself.
Sweden’s parliament said it would vote next week on a constitutional amendment that would strengthen the “anti-terrorism” law, a key demand from Turkey.
The amendment would allow new laws to “restrict the freedom of association of terrorist-related groups,” parliament said in a statement, adding that the vote is scheduled for June 16. November.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Ankara last week to inform the case of Sweden and Finland, saying their accession would “send a clear message to Russia”.
Stoltenberg stressed that the two sides agreed on concessions to Turkey in June, which included resolving a request to deport or extradite “terrorist suspects”.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told journalists on Monday that he expected NATO accession to “take place in a reasonable time”.
In August, Sweden announced it had decided to extradite to Turkey a man in his 30s wanted for fraud. The move is the first since Turkey requested cooperation on the extradition from Stockholm.
Turkey lift its veto on Finnish and Swedish bids in June after weeks of intense negotiations. Turkey has since expressed frustration at the lack of progress.