Sweden has larger share of PKK funding than Finland, says top NATO negotiator

Sweden has larger share of PKK funding than Finland, says top NATO negotiator

Rising incidents of gang violence in Sweden linked to PKK, says Oscar Stenstrom

By Mehmet Solmaz

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AA) — In a confession-like statement, Sweden’s chief NATO negotiator said his country has a larger share of PKK financing compared to Finland.

Speaking to the state-owned Sveriges Radio, Oscar Stenstrom said: “Unlike Finland, we have a larger share of funding for the PKK from Sweden.”

Both countries are bidding to join the NATO alliance, but are faced with opposition from Türkiye due to their ties and tolerance toward the terrorist organization PKK.

Stenstrom further said he acknowledges that the PKK is involved with the drug market, which is considered to be one of the main funding channels of the terrorist organization.

Sweden is currently experiencing the most violent gang-related violence with over 300 shootings and bombings recorded in 2022, leaving 63 people dead. Stenstrom said there is a direct correlation between the gang violence and the PKK.

“These people are often multitaskers in their field. Terrorist financing and serious crime are linked – yes. It is far from explaining everything, but extortion, financing weapons and drugs exist in this field,” he said.

Under a trilateral memorandum signed in June by Sweden, Finland, and Türkiye during a NATO summit held in Madrid, the two Nordic states pledged to distance itself from terror groups and to take concrete actions against them.

The Swedish NATO process has come to a standstill after Swedish authorities enabled a far-right political figure to burn a copy of Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, while for Finland it appears to be a straight path forward.

Stenstrom said the NATO accession talks with Türkiye are currently frozen. “It’s not profitable to hold talks right now. We each get to work somewhere and then we'll see how long this pause lasts,“ he told the radio host.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has recently suggested that the country may decouple and consider joining NATO without Sweden if Türkiye continues to block their joint bid to enter the alliance.

In a recent interview with Anadolu, Stenstrom said the promises made by the Nordic countries were a top priority for the Swedish government. "We're working on all, we will fulfil the total agreement."

In response to a question on Sweden’s support to the PKK, Stenstrom said this was no longer the case. "Yes, we have changed. And we have realized better the security concerns of Türkiye. This will also improve the security of Sweden.

"Sweden should and will never be a safe haven for any terrorist, and that's why we're also increasing our cooperation between our security services. We're dedicating more funds to these services and defense. We will be happy to cooperate together in NATO."

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