Swedish parliament postpones new anti-terror bill to May

Swedish parliament postpones new anti-terror bill to May

Stockholm has long been criticized for not taking tougher actions against PKK, FETO terrorist groups

By Atila Altuntas and Mehmet Solmaz

STOCKHOLM/Birmingham, UK (AA) - An anti-terror legislation that was scheduled to pass in the Swedish parliament on Thursday has been postponed till May 3. The government initially planned the law to go into force on June 1.

According to Swedish media, the new counterterrorism bill will target the financing, aiding and propagation of terrorist groups. Traveling abroad to join or assist a terrorist group will also be penalized if the law goes into effect.

Speaking to Anadolu, Swedish parliament's press secretary Carina Larrson said the legislation is being seen by the Justice Committee.

Commenting on the government’s previous announcements that the law will be voted on March 7, and then on March 9 with a two-day delay, Carina said the government plans do not always match with the working schedule of the parliament.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Stockholm, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Sweden would fulfill its commitments towards Türkiye once the bill passes the parliament.

In order to approve its NATO membership bid, Ankara demands the Nordic country to take concrete actions to combat terrorist groups PKK and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt in Türkiye.

Sweden passed an anti-terror law last November, hoping that Ankara would approve Stockholm’s bid to join the transatlantic alliance. Türkiye says that the adopted laws were not sufficient enough and nothing much had been done to stop the activities of the terrorist groups.

While Türkiye was unsatisfied with the vague approach of Sweden, Ankara postponed a trilateral meeting after Swedish authorities allowed a Danish far-right politician to burn a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on Jan. 21.

The talks then restarted with a foreign ministerial-level meeting in Brussels on Thursday. Stockholm reiterated its determination to take the steps required under a trilateral memorandum signed in June by Sweden, Finland, and Türkiye during a NATO Summit held in Madrid.

In the face of criticism, Sweden's chief negotiator for NATO accession Oscar Stenstrom recently told Anadolu that their stance on terrorism is no longer the same.

"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," Stenstrom said.

Türkiye has provided a list of wanted individuals to Sweden and is expecting the Scandinavian nation to take swift action to show that its demands are being truly realized. However, none of the convicts had been handed over to Türkiye yet.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently said he acknowledges Sweden made changes to its laws on terrorism and is also pledging to pass a new bill, but what Türkiye demands is a concrete action.

"There are pledges (by Sweden and Finland) to NATO membership. It is not possible for us to say 'yes' to Sweden's NATO membership without seeing these steps. Everyone should see clearly that Sweden, particularly, is not fulfilling its obligations. That's the reason why we said 'yes' for the meeting to be held in Brussels,” Cavusoglu said.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last May, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24, 2022.

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