Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dropped his opposition to Sweden’s entry into NATO, it was announced just ahead of the opening of the military alliance summit in Vilnius July 11. US President Joe Biden thanked Erdogan for his “courage” in clearing the way for Stockholm’s bid. In an apparent quid pro quo, the State Department said the administration is dropping its objections to Turkey purchasing F-16 fighter jets from the US. Congress opposed sales of the jets to Turkey after Ankara bought Russian S-400 missile systems in 2017.
In blocking Sweden’s NATO membership bid, Turkey had accused Stockholm of harboring Kurdish “terrorists”—meaning prominent supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara officially labels a “terrorist” group. Last November, Sweden amended its constitution to strengthen its “anti-terrorism” laws—clearly in deference to Turkey. The amendment, which passed with 278 votes in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament, makes it possible to introduce new laws to “limit freedom of association when it comes to associations that engage in or support terrorism.”
The Swedish Supreme Court in June also ruled to allow extradition of the accused PKK figures to Turkey. And the rallies held in Stockholm against the extraditions by Kurdish immigrants and exiles may now be criminalized. (EKurd Daily, EKurd Daily, Rudaw, EuroNews, DW)
The US and EU both also designate the PKK a “terrorist organization,” despite growing legal challenges to this in Europe.
Photo of F-16: USAF via Wikimedia Commons