After Turkey unblocked the NATO accession process for Sweden and Finland, now fears have arisen that the two Nordic states could have conceded too much to Ankara over deportations.
Political adversaries of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan based in Sweden were quick to label the deal as a sellout, which could strengthen Turkey’s efforts to secure extraditions of Kurdish rights activists and other opponents.
“This is a black day in Swedish political history,” said Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent Swedish lawmaker and longtime advocate for Kurdish rights. “We are negotiating with a regime which does not respect freedom of expression or the rights of minority groups,” Kakabaveh, a former fighter with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iran, told the SVT television channel.
Since mid-May, Turkey has threatened to veto the NATO applications from Sweden and Finland unless the two states complied with, among other things, its demands to crack down on groups Ankara regards as terrorists.
This has caused political tension because Stockholm and Helsinki don’t agree that all the groups on Ankara’s list are terrorists. For example, all three regard the PKK as terrorists but only Turkey sees the Syria-based Kurdish groups the YPG and PYD as terrorists.
Over the past two months, officials from the three states, as well as from NATO headquarters, have sought to secure a compromise that would allow Erdoğan to claim a diplomatic victory while not undermining Swedish or Finnish human rights laws.
The 10-point deal published late Tuesday ahead of a key NATO summit in Madrid was that compromise. The most sensitive element was arguably point eight, which included a commitment by Sweden and Finland “to address Turkey's pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly.”
While loosely worded, and arguably vague enough to be potentially insignificant, the clause rattled some Kurds in Sweden. Kurdo Baksi, a prominent Sweden-based Kurdish writer, told Swedish TV he was worried that Sweden and Finland might have promised to extradite Kurds and other democratically minded Turks who have sought a refuge in the two countries back to Turkey.
“I hope that Sweden will enter NATO with the same view of democracy and human rights as it had before (Foreign Minister) Ann Linde and (Prime Minister) Magdalena Andersson traveled to the NATO meeting in Madrid,” he said.