Erdogan aide says time is running out to ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids

ANKARA, Jan. 14 (Reuters) – Turkey is running out of time to ratify bids for NATO membership by Sweden and Finland before elections are held in May, a Turkish presidential spokesman said on Saturday.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey’s ratification of the countries’ bids depends on how quickly Stockholm fulfills anti-terrorism promises made as part of a deal with Ankara, warning it could take months.

“Stockholm is fully committed to implementing the agreement signed in Madrid last year, but the country still needs six months to write new laws that will allow the judiciary to implement the new definitions of terrorism,” Kalin said at a news conference. press conference in Istanbul. .

Sweden, along with Finland, signed an agreement with Turkey last year to remove Ankara’s objections to their NATO bid, which was made last May and requires the approval of all 30 NATO member states. Both countries applied to join NATO after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ankara has said Sweden needs to take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and the organization it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey’s parliament should ratify Ankara’s decision on the membership of the two Nordic countries, and both are being voted on at the same time.

Kalin said the Swedish government should send a clear signal to “terrorist organizations that Sweden is no longer a safe haven for them and they will not be able to raise money, recruit members and engage in other activities”.

“We have a time problem if they want to join NATO before the NATO summit in June,” Kalin added, referring to Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections expected in May.

“As parliament will go into recess some time before the elections, you have 2 to 2.5 months to do all this,” he said.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer Writing by Ece Toksabay Editing by Helen Popper

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