Swedish parliament to vote on new anti-terror bill as NATO accession talks set to resume

Swedish parliament to vote on new anti-terror bill as NATO accession talks set to resume

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

By Mehmet Solmaz

BIRMINGHAM, England (AA) - The Swedish parliament is set to pass an anti-terror law on Tuesday. If passed, the new legislation will go into force on June 1.

According to the 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.

Türkiye has been demanding Stockholm 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 then passed an anti-terror law last November, hoping that Ankara would okay Stockholm’s bid to join the NATO 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 with Sweden and Finland over the Nordic countries’ NATO bid 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 are set to restart with a foreign ministerial-level meeting in Brussels on Thursday. Stockholm reiterates 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 realised 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 has recently said that he acknowledges Sweden has 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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